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Libero Badii

Libero Badii / © Foto: Haupt and Binder, Universes in Universe

Libero Badii - Artistic Testament

Libero Badii (1916 - 2001) a multifaceted artist, tireless creator, defender of a solitary creative freedom that lives up to his name Libero, is an emblematic figure of 20th century Argentine art.

His artistic investigations of the sculptural space at the intersection of pre-Hispanic art forms and European avant-garde languages, as well as his ability to capture the essential and universal through a humanized abstraction, marked his unmistakable singularity. He described his artistic quest as an exploration of "the sinister", of the enigmatic energy of life, beyond any rational explanation.

Libero Badii: Ariadna, 1969. Polychromed wood.
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

In this homage to Libero Badii, we present one of his key works, "Testamento Artístico" (Artistic Testament), with the artist's own reflections, which we have translated from Spanish. We also show some other works that for 30 years were housed at the now closed Libero Badii Museum in a historic mansion in the Belgrano neighborhood, until their donation to the National Museum of Fine Arts in the year 2022. It is there where they can be seen today, as well as in the Borges Cultural Center, where they are being preserved and cataloged.

Sinister Knowledge No 7 Artistic Testament

By Libero Badii, December 1975

It was the year 1967 and I wanted to develop an exhibition with the thematic focus of the theory of space. After talking to Jorge Romero Brest, I was able to get the rooms of the Instituto di Tella. In the last hall I carried out the work ensemble which I called "Sinister Knowledge No 1 The Dolls." I felt and realized that a new path was opening up in my vision of reality. So it was, that I arrived in 1974 with works within this same aesthetic vision. Therefore, that same year I wanted to undertake a work that would convey a unifying philosophical and aesthetic thought. That is how the "Artistic Testament" was born.

Libero Badii: Self-portraits, drawing and photography

I began to draw; in the diary of my writings there are annotations and drawings of ideas, and in 1975, the work was developed in its entirety - at the beginning, drawings and sketches where I wanted to summarize my artistic knowledge, and, at the end, the work in its definitive size. Starting with a photograph of my physical person, I developed the theory of "the sinister" until the last study was completed. There are thirty sketches in bronze, four as bronze relief, three copies of the last bronze study were made, there are nine studies in cardboard painted in tempera, there are six cardboard collages - with one of them a silkscreen was made, and finally, this same folder that brings together all the drawings and material for the process.

Libero Badii: Self-portraits, 1975, engravings
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

In September 1975, I began the definitive work in a size of two meters, putting all my passion, building up piece after piece of wood, and then the color, finishing it at the end of December 1975. When I brought it to my Almataller, I felt frightened by the sinister mood that it communicated, I believe that this feeling has been well achieved. I wish to have it here for a while in my Almataller [studio-soul], to see how communication correspondences develop.

Testamento artístico, 1974-75
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

"Sinister Knowledge No 7 Artistic Testament". Last in the series that is intertwined with the following works: No 1 "The Dolls" - 1967-68; No 2 "The Sacrifice" - 1970-71; No 3 "The Lesson of Aesthetics" - 1972; No 4 "The Self" - 1973; No 5 "The Power" - 1974; No 6 "The Ratio" - 1974; No 7 "Artistic Testament" - 1974-75.

Unity of communication since they have a beginning and an end in relation to the same life of a man. I think that this last series of my artistic path is of total creation, the philosophical idea, the aesthetic concept and the vision of reality.

Now the work is there, a world created in these last years gives me the idea of a life dedicated to an expression of giving happiness and feeling happy myself (L.B.).

About Libero Badii

Born in 1916 in Arezzo, Italy, Badii arrived with his family in Argentina in 1927, taking citizenship in 1947. He began his sculptural training in his father's marble workshop.

At the end of his Fine Arts studies, he embarked on a trip to the north of Argentina, which later extended to Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. South America meant for him the possibility of opening up to new imaginative fields that broke with his academic formation. Two years later, he visited France, Spain and Italy. In search of his own visual language that would renew the artistic tradition, his works are the result of the crossing between forms of pre-Hispanic art and the language of the European avant-garde of the first half of the 20th century.

El Deseo, 1955. Bronze
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

At the end of the 1960s, he began to develop the concept of "the sinister", as a way of conceiving artistic creation as opposed to "the classic", understood as the aesthetic foundations inherited from the great masters. In the early 1970s, he continued to elaborate this idea, which he began to associate with the Latin American, and it materialized in works constructed from assembled wood with pure and contrasting colors.

His numerous exhibitions include a retrospective at the National Museum of Fine Arts in 1962 and, in 1968, the great exhibition at the Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires, as well as participations in the Sao Paulo Biennial, where he won the International Prize in 1971.

Libero Badii Museum

(1990 – 2020)

In 1988, the former Banco de Crédito Argentino (now BBVA Argentina) acquired a large part of the artist's work and personal objects. To make them accessible to the public, the Foundation in charge established the Libero Badii Museum in the historic Casona Alsina in front of Plaza Barrancas de Belgrano, in September 1990. For thirty years it exhibited outstanding works from this collection, which included sculptures from various periods, as well as paintings, drawings, engravings and sketches, artist's books and documentary material.

Donation to National Fine Arts Museum

The collection housed in the Museo Libero Badii was donated by the Fundación BBVA Argentina to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Publicizing this generous gift, the MNBA exhibited the polychrome wood sculpture "The Mother" (1976) in the central hall in October 2022.

Presentation of the donation
© Photo Courtesy MNBA

The total of this legacy is estimated at some 135 sculptures, 72 paintings, nearly 100 prints and as many framed drawings, almost 200 folders of drawings and prints, 50 artist's books and ceramic pieces, produced by Libero Badii between the 1940s and 1980s. It includes, among other fundamental pieces, the sculptures "The Point" (1967), "Ariadne" (1969), "Artistic Testament" (1974) and "The Mother" (1976).

This estate, which adds to the corpus of 70 pieces by the artist in the Museum, makes it possible to complete the various periods of his singular career. It also makes the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes the holder of the most complete Badii collection in the world.

Reserva-Taller Libero Badii

For the cataloguing, preservation and restoration of works and documents received as donations by the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, a special space was opened at the Centro Cultural Borges (2nd floor, pavilion IV). In the "Reserva-Taller Libero Badii", the public can see part of the preservation and registration work carried out in conjunction with the Museological Conservation Department of the National University of the Arts (UNA). Different parts of the collection will also be presented in successive temporary projects.

Reserva-Taller Libero Badii
© Photo: Courtesy Centro Cultural Borges

More in UiU:

© Texts and photos are protected by copyright.
Compilation of information, editing, translations, photos: Universes in Universe, unless otherwise indicated

Libero Badii: Conocimiento siniestro No 7 "Testamento Artistico".
Madera policromada - bronces dibujos - serigrafías – cartones, año 1974-75

Information from: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Centro Cultural Borges, Fundación BBVA Argentina.

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