Biography

His quiet and unpredictable appearances and disappearances on the hills during the partisan war gave him the nickname that would accompany him for the rest of his life: “Nuvolo” (Cloud).
Barely more than an adolescent, he showed qualities that were already part of a character that, when he became an adult, would transform him into a skilled experimenter of the screen-printing technique and enable him, in the quiet of his workshop and far from any clamor, to give life to one of the most peculiar artistic researches in Italian art history.

The medium is the screen printing frame, introduced in the school of his hometown, Città di Castello, an important printing center since the Fifteenth Century. However, since the middle of the Forties, screen printing had been used only by craftsmen or, in a more limited way, in industrial graphic design. Nuvolo felt a growing need to investigate its forms, understanding that serial reproducibility could be questioned. Thus, he bypassed the limits of that time by using dichromate gelatins, becoming the first person to experiment with photographic screen printing in Italy and opening the field to visual arts.

Focused on continuous personal research based on his knowledge of mathematics and physics, later applied to computer science, Nuvolo would end up totally renovating screen printing technique to the extent of reversing the structure for which it was conceived. His “serotipie,” works which are not multiple anymore but unique creations, show a constant dialectic between “Cartesian” space and the free pouring of color, and between order and randomness toward an extremely dynamic flow of different languages and (only) apparently irreconcilable.

1926: Nuvolo (Giorgio Ascani) was born in Città di Castello in the Umbria region of Central Italy on October 12, 1926. His parents, both printers, gave him love and passion for the printing art along with the accuracy and technical precision of the tool.

1944: He spent his youth in Umbria where, participating in the Resistance, he took the name “Nuvolo” (cloud).

1949: Working in his family’s graphic workshop, he showed manual skills that he also expressed in various fields, from stage design to theatre costumes, furniture, decoration and restoration. Following the suggestion of his friend and fellow countryman Alberto Burri, he moved to Rome. There, he become Burri’s collaborator in the studio on Via Margutta and also met Edgardo Mannucci.

1950: Burri introduced him to Corrado Cagli during Giuseppe Capogrossi’s exhibition at Galleria del Secolo. Nuvolo and Cagli started a lifelong friendship and collaboration. He progressively became an active part of the city’s constellation of the particular reformative artistic atmosphere of 1950’s Rome, participating in the foundation of “Gruppo Origine” (Balocco, Burri, Capogrossi, and Colla).

1952: He produced his first screen printing paintings, called “Serotipie” by his friend, the visionary poet Emilio Villa, establishing a particular conjunction between screen printing and a proper pictorial technique at the end of the 1940s, after some years of pioneering experimentation in small industry, making the first photography screen prints and screen printed publicity posters.

1953: He moved to the studio left by Alberto Burri in Via Margutta, finding greater space for larger silk-screen surfaces and frames. He begun to work with the “Scacchi” (chess) collage series.

1954: Nuvolo officially presented his “Serotipie” in the second issue of Fondazione Origine’s journal “Arti Visive,” directed by his brother Ascanio, writer and critic, alongside Ettore Colla and the poet Emilio Villa. The small publishing house La Palma published the first “Esoedizioni”, special art books including Villa’s poetry and different silkscreen illustrations for every copy.

1955: Emilio Villa presented Nuvolo’s first exhibitions at “Le Carrozze” Gallery in 1955. Corrado Cagli presented the second in Florence; others were hosted in the most prestigious galleries in Rome, La Tartaruga, Trastevere, Appia Antica, and San Luca. Outside Italy, mostly in the US, he took part in an “exhibition passageway” comparing Italian and American art.

1956: He participated in a collective hosted at the gallery of San Marco, representing the artistic panorama of the period, including Burri, Cagli, Capogrossi, Dorazio, Fasola, Mannucci, Mirko, Perilli and Turcato. He married Liliana Baracchi, who was Nuvolo’s atelier partner for nearly fifty years.

1957: He moved his studio to Via Clivo Rutario, then to Via Lungotevere Artigiani the following year. He started the screen printing paintings “Bianchi”.

1958: Galleria Montenapoleone hosted his personal exhibition in Milan. Villa presented his “Serotipie” at the Roman bookstore “Ferro di Cavallo”, explaining the characteristics of the new artistic tool. Nuvolo produced his first sewing machine work, extending his activity to new materials and new formal solutions.

1959: He participated the Quadriennale of Roma and Premio Lissone. In the same period, he entered Milan’s artistic milieu with Manzoni, Bonalumi, Castellani, Dova, and Crippa, and was often hosted by Fontana.

1967: In a prolific collaboration with the artist Mirko, he started graphics production with some work of Cagli, followed by many other artists over the years. He inaugurated the “Oigroig” series exploring the theme of symmetry on a scientific basis.

1969: He accompanied his exhibition activity with teaching in Arts schools (first in Vasto, then in Foggia and the following year in Rome). He began to work on the new “Modulari” screen printing cycle.

1977: He exhibited at Studio Piattelli in Rome, presenting his anthological series and a new interaction with the video element. He won a teaching position in painting at the Academy of fine arts of Perugia.

1979: He became Chair of the Academy of fine arts of Perugia, remaining in that position until 1984.

1984: He moved his atelier to Città di Castello, where he worked on the graphic productions of Carla Accardi, Marco Bagnoli, Alighiero Boetti, Alberto Burri, Luciano Fabro, Renato Guttuso, Jannis Kounellis, Sol Le Witt, Milo Manara, Mario Merz, Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Mimmo Rotella, among others.

1987: He adopted the binary bar code for new uses, progressively implementing digital production with the help of his sons Paolo, a computer technician, and Giorgio, a photographer.

1989: He produced the “Aftermandelbrot” series based on the fractal theories of Mandelbrot, by which the artist considerably expanded the screen printing experimentation.

1993: To celebrate his forty years of activity in Perugia and his hometown Città di Castello, critic Bruno Corà hosted a retrospectiv exhibition focusing on his entire production, from screen printing to video, and from painting to his atelier production.

1998: A special exhibition was hosted in Siena, with 100 televisions projecting his works. He inaugurated the “Turbolenze” painting cycle.

2002: He returned to publishing “esoedizioni” with various authors and critics, exhibiting the works in XVIII Century typography in his hometown, Grifani Donati, with the assistance of collaborator Marco Baldicchi. He started the cycle “Legni collage”(wood collage).

2003: The “Genesi” series (1994/1998) was analyzed in a specific philosophic study, published by Professor Venanzio Nocchi, focused on the artist’s ontological and creative structure.

2005: The Pinacoteca Municipal Art Gallery of Città di Castello hosted the retrospective, “Nuvolo, the pictorial space between order and chaos” curated by Bruno Corà, creating an updated compendium of the painter’s works.

2008: Nuvolo died in his hometown Città di Castello at the age of 82.

2015: The family founded the Archive Nuvolo Association, composed by the artist’s sons and directed by his widow, Liana Baracchi. The association donated a permanent body of works to the Municipal Art Gallery of Città di Castello, inaugurating activities of study and promotion in Italy and abroad.

Nuvolo al lavoro - Nuvolo at work
Nuvolo con il critico Bruno Corà - with Bruno Corà, 1989
Nuvolo Ascani
Nuvolo anni 70 - Seventies
Nuvolo Ascani
Nuvolo, 1989
Mostra (exhibition) Trieste, 1989
Nuvolo e (with) Emilio Villa, 1996
Nuvolo e (with) Emilio Villa, 1996
Nuvolo Ascani, 1956
Nuvolo Ascani, 1956
Nuvolo Ascani, 1965
Nuvolo Ascani, 1966
Nuvolo Ascani, 1984
Nuvolo Ascani, 1987

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