Known for his lifelong exploration of light through intimately scaled paintings on wood and paper, Calderara’s early influences include Piero della Francesca, Seurat and the Milanese Novecento painters. His early works focus on portraits, landscapes and city views of his native Italy, each intimate portraits of place and time, inspired by the northern Italian light surrounding Lake Orta where the artist moved with his wife in 1934.
Calderara found his first mentor in Lucio Fontana and, by the late 1950s, he made a decisive shift towards abstraction, abandoning pictorial narratives and reducing his paintings to geometric typologies informed by subtle blocks of diffused color. From this new pared-down vocabulary arose a transcendent balance of color, light and form.
Defying categorization among his peers, Calderara’s refined use of color and precise typologies align him closely with both Minimalist and Constructivist artists of the same era including Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers, both of whom he admired.
Calderara participated in the 1948 and 1956 Venice Biennales as well as Documenta 4 in 1968. Solo exhibitions include the Museo d'Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1965); the Kunstmuseum Lucerne (1969); the Museo d'Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1965); Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, Netherlands (1968); Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (1969); Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Germany (1973); ICA, London, UK (1974); Contemporary Art Museum of Genoa, Italy (1995); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (2003); and Fondazione Zappettini, Milan, Italy (2011).
Calderara’s first large-scale European retrospective was mounted in 2016 at the MASI Lugano in Switzerland. Most recently, his work has been the subject of a solo exhibition at Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2017), which focused on his works from the 1950s and 1960s. Our presentation at the ADAA: The Art Show marks the first opportunity for the North American public to enjoy Calderara’s work spanning five decades of his career.