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Alfredo Volpi
b. 1896, Lucca, Italy
d. 1988, São Paulo, Brazil

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The prominent 20th century painter Alfredo Volpi blurred the boundaries between abstraction and figuration in his geometrically patterned canvases. The Italian-born artist was self-taught, but his oeuvre bears the influence of Impressionism and Expressionism. Volpi was affiliated in the 1930s with the Grupo Santa Helena collective, a group of São Paulo artists interested in proletarian imagery. He had his first solo exhibition at São Paulo’s Galeria Itá in 1944 and a few years later participated in the 1950 Venice Biennale. In 1958, he was invited to paint frescoes for Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima—one of the first churches in the city of Brasilia, designed by the eminent modern architect Oscar Niemeyer. Volpi is best known for his series of Bandeirinhas (festival flags) and Fachadas (building facades) that he painted from the late 1950s through the 1970s; these paintings depicted street scenes reduced to a minimalist essence.

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