Aligi Sassu’s cyclists: poetry on the road

Aligi Sassu, ciclisti

"Cyclists", 1929, oil on canvas, private collection

According to Basilicata-born writer Leonardo Sinisgalli, the “Cyclists” by Aligi Sassu are “a truly noteworthy epic poem.”

In the late 1920s, the Milanese painter (1912-2000) was introduced to Futurism by his friend Bruno Munari. Marinetti even invited him to take part in the 1928 Venice Biennale, but his relationship with the movement was over by the end of the decade.

Sassu’s fellow artist and friend Renato Guttuso considered him a realist, and described him as “the painter who before any other looked at the problem of the work of art under the right light. His themes are alive, modern – the color is new, and the power of his storytelling is effective.”

Sassu himself once explained his passion for cycling: “I used to compete in bike races as a kid. It was my most heroic season. I loved the swish of the light tires on the asphalt, the sharp smell of smoke, wet, dirt that I absorbed, with my head sunk between my shoulders, leaning on the handlebars as I sprinted through towns, countryside, loose cobblestones. Hills were dusty and exhausting under the sun. It is only after struggling on these roads at length that you can understand all their poetry.”

To find out more about the life and works of Aligi Sassu, visit the websites dedicated to the artist and the archive in his name.

January 23, 2017