Artwork Detail

Il Giardino della Speranza (The Garden of Hope)
Italian, 1912–1976
Oil on canvas
57 x 68 7/8 "
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard K. Weil, 1962
WU 3918
Afro Basaldella, who was known by his first name only, was one of the early members of a group of postwar Italian artists called the Gruppo degli Otto (Group of Eight) who saw in abstraction a form of artistic autonomy and liberation from both the politicized restrictions of communist socialist realism in the postwar period and the figurative realism that had been the official art of fascist Italy under dictator Benito Mussolini. Afro’s own declarations about art—such as his 1955 statement, “The picture should be an enclosed world; within its limits the drama unfolds”—suggest he associated the act of making art with an existential experience, a struggle to express meaning that is evident in the material qualities of the artwork. Indeed, with its references to inner states, dreamlike recollections, and mysterious reminiscences, his work often upholds this association. Through its active cluster of shapes that imply lively, forward motion across a blue field, "Il Giardino della Speranza" evokes, as its title suggests, themes of hope, progress, and fecundity. For Afro, abstraction was often conceived of as an expression of a subconscious state or metaphysical experience that could unite both the suffering and beauty of humanity. [Exhibition label, 2015]