Becoming an avant-garde artist

…is easy if your kids are grown up enough to let you use their cache of Lego.

Enrico Baj. Cover for Une Medaille book, 1972

Enrico Baj. Cover for Une Medaille book, 1972

This is a cover for the book that Enrico Baj both wrote and illustrated, having created an encyclopedia of graphic techniques with references to his surrealist friends (Max Ernst and Man Ray).

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Enrico Baj was a great graphic artist full of bullshit ideas (beyond the realm of graphic arts), which – quite surprisingly – produced some very right attitudes.

He was head over heels into pataphysics (and no, you don’t want to know what it is, but if you click on this link and understand what it is about, you may qualify for the Nobel Prize in Comprehending the Inexplicable). He admired the founder of Anarchism. Yet, he fiercely opposed nuclear arms (who doesn’t?) and was a stern opponent of Berlusconi.

Perhaps, his inner strength in common sense prevented him from being enslaved by any of the isms of the 20th century art. He never formally joined dada or surrealism. This gave him a lot of freedom and artistic insight. Plus, he could safely borrow ideas from (or “quote”) his predominantly surrealist friends.

The exhibition of books illustrated by surrealists currently run by Moscow’s Pushkin museum made me wish I kept my boys’ two chests of Lego somewhere safe. I have a couple of empty walls that might benefit from a bit of graphic colour on them.

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