“Colour, together with sign, is the main part of painting. Interpretation and its way of being make the painting.
Giulio Turcato was born in Mantua in 1912 and died in Rome in 1995. He moved to Venice in 1925 where he attended the Liceo Artistico and, occasionally, the Scuola Libera del Nudo, as he was hindered by his family.
He produced his first paintings and participated in a group exhibition in 1932. In 1934, during his military service in Palermo, he felt the first symptoms of a lung disease that would impact his whole life. Settling in Milan in 1937, he was often ill and in hospital.
Turcato worked as a designer for Muzio’s architectural studio. He came into contact with the Corrente movement but did not join it. In 1943 he took up residence in Rome and despite being involved in the Resistance, he continued to paint. In 1945, together with Prampolini, Fazzini, Jarema, Savelli, Mafai, Corpora, Consagra and Perilli, he formed the Art Club association and presented his works at the Il Pincio, del Secolo and San Marco Galleries.
He subscribed to the manifesto of the Nuova Secessione Artistica Italiana and travelled to Paris with Carla Accardi, Consagra and Sanfilippo with whom, together with Attardi, Dorazio, Guerrini and Perilli, he formed the Forma 1 group. In 1947 he exhibited at Galleria La Spiga in Milan with the Nuova Secessione, which then changed its name to Fronte Nuovo delle Arti (before being dissolved in 1948). Turcato joined the Gruppo degli Otto (born from a split in the Fronet), which theorised informal abstractionism.
The work Miniera won him a prize at the Venice Biennale. He had already taken part in and would go on to participate in the 1952, 1956-1958, 1966-1968, 1972 editions. In the 1984 edition he staged the performance Moduli in viola/Omaggio a Kandinsky, directed by Vana Caruso, his wife.
Turcato’s famous painting Comizio (1949) infuriated Palmiro Togliatti, leader of Italy’s Communist party, because it was too abstract, but Turcato defended as follows: “Actually, Comizio is a quite realistic painting; there are these red triangles which represent the red flags, which are the masses”. Works such as Massacro al napalm and Paesaggio atomico followed, testifying to his political passion.
Turcato made a trip to Paris in 1950 and another to Asia (Russia, China and India) in 1956. He travelled to Morocco, Switzerland and Sweden, and went to New York in 1962. He then visited Cairo, Luxor and Abu Simbel in 1964, experiences that inspired the series of paintings entitled Porte d’Egitto. He spent some time in Nairobi in 1970. Cycles of works include Arcipelaghi, Paesaggi lunari, Itinerari in gommapiuma and Cangianti.
Guilio Turcato had solo exhibitions all over the world, including Documenta in Kassel and the São Paulo Biennale. His works are in museums such as the MoMa in New York, the Pac in Milan, the Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst in Munich, the Musée de l’Athenée in Geneva, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and many others.