Gillo Dorfles Born: Trieste, then Austro-Hungary, 1910.
Acclaimed Italian artist and critic Gillo Dorfles died on Friday, 2 March 2018, aged 107.
Gillo Dorfles was a philosopher, artist, semiologist and scholar. His broad contributions to the development of art and aesthetics as an academician, painter and critic have been immeasurable. Gillo Dorfles was a philosopher, artist, semiologist and scholar. His broad contributions to the development of art and aesthetics as an academician, painter and critic have been immeasurable.
Since the 1930s, he worked intensely as an art critic and essayist, collaborating with the publications such as Le Arti Plastiche, La Fiera Letteraria, Il Mondo, Aut Aut, The Studio, and The Journal of Aesthetics.
As part of his critical investigations, Dorfles scrutinised the social and anthropological side of aesthetic phenomena. Having practised psychiatry and medicine in his earlier years, and with interests beyond the sphere of art, Dorfles was able to draw upon his eclectic background when reflecting on cultural activity.
Portrait of Gillo Dorfles.
Dorfles began painting in the 1930s.
At this early stage in his career, his paintings were largely influenced by surrealism. However, by the 1940s, his aesthetic perspective had evolved. In Milan, 1948, in collaboration with Atanasio Soldati, Bruno Munari and Gianni Monnet, Dorfles co-founded the MAC (Movimento Arte Concreta; or the ‘Concrete Art Movement’). The group produced non-figurative painting; a geometric abstraction that rejected symbolism and manifestations of external representation.
Following the discontinuation of the movement in 1958, Dorfles underwent a progressive reduction in his artistic activity. Instead, he channelled his attention towards his writing and research. He taught as a professor at the Universities of Milan, Cagliari and Trieste.
Gillo Dorfles, Composizione con segnoarancione, 1957. Image courtesy artist
Until his return to painting in the 1980s, various artistic movements came and went: Informal Art, Pop Art, Arte Povera, Conceptual Art, Performance Art, Video art and many more. Each of these movements interested Dorfles as an art critic but were far removed from his sensibilities as an artist.
Gillo Dorfles’s multifaceted perspective has set the precedent for contemporary artists
Many aspire to produce art, curate and write art criticism as he did. Since the end of the Second World War, Dorfles’s accomplished career has seen him consistently analyse countless movements in and around visual culture, as well as exhibit at an international level.
Gillo Dorfles’s artwork featured in major exhibitions and retrospective across the globe, including recently at Milan Triennale 2017, where he showcased fifteen new canvases that were made that year. His essays on the latest developments in culture and social behaviour have been widely published. They include: The Becoming of Arts (1959); Kitch: The World of Bad Taste (1968); The Becoming of Criticism (1976); and Conformism (1997).
Author: George Greenhill
Cover image: Gillo Dorfles, Composizione Turchese,1955. Image courtesy artist and gallery.