Franco Angeli (original name Giuseppe Angeli) was born in Rome in 1935 as a family of humble origins and a solid socialist and anti-fascist tradition. Third of three brothers, he does not complete his elementary studies due to the war but in himself develops a great passion for art and creativity.
1941 Due to the death of his father, Franco Angeli is forced to provide for his sick mother, inventing the most disparate works: he brings carts to the market, boy-brush to a barber, he works in a laundry, finally in a car body shop.
From there, according to Gino De Dominicis, the use of the velatine and the stockings found in his first paintings are born, they are often given away by friends.
Franco Angeli is an excellent upholsterer, generally he prepares the canvases of paintings himself, without ever having attended painting schools.
In 1949 the mother also dies, an event that marks him deeply. His brother Otello, future secretary of the Communist Party of Cinecittà, takes over his brother’s reins and educates him according to specific political guidelines.
1957 The first artistic works are born: in Franco, the need to paint explodes as an affirmation of freedom. The bombardment of San Lorenzo, which he witnesses as a witness, profoundly upsets him, marking his future painting where, with the use of materials such as gauzes and dark red colors, they denounce a strong debt to Burri.
1950 Franco Angeli has the first collective exhibition, at the Galleria La Salita, in Rome, with Festa and Uncini.
1960 It is his first personal exhibition, at La Salita Gallery.
His brother Otello organizes the Cinecittà Painting Prize, where a monochrome by the artist, on jute canvas, is rejected by the commission composed, among others, by Guttuso, Trombadori and Del Guercio. Works such as Accattoni, of that year, denote tangents with the poetry of the informal.
1961/62 Franco Angeli participates with Lo Savio, Festa and Schifano in the exhibition New perspectives of Italian painting, at Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna.
Franco knows in the section of the Schifano party, and they become friends: they share the common extraction, the rooted sense of reality, the need to go beyond informal experiences. It is a generation of artists united by a close existential bond marked by war: they are called masters of pain, a qualification that distances them from Art Pop, whose extraneousness refers to a letter signed by Angels himself.
In the following years he later became a friend of Renato Guttuso and then of Arnaldo Pomodoro and the poet Francesco Serrao.
1963 At the J Gallery in Paris, his works are alongside those of Bruce Conner, Michael Todd, Christo and Kudo: catalog by Pierre Restany. At the Galleria La Tartaruga, in Piazza del Popolo, he takes part in a historic collective exhibition: 13 painters in Rome. Angeli’s work is glossed by a poetic text by Nanni Balestrini.
1964, At the Galleria L’Arco in Rome, presents Fragments of the Capitoline: these are wolves, eagles, fragments of collective symbolism. Participate in the Venice Biennale, presented by Calvesi: it is the historic Biennial of Pop Art in Italy. The artist presents The She-wolf and Quarter Dollar.
1965 Franco Angeli is invited to the ninth Roman Quadrennial: of this period are the Partisan Cemeteries, equipped with stars and scythes and hammer.
1967 Franco Angeli present at the Biennial of São Paulo in Brazil with Half dollar: the famous half-dollar, zoomed in details.
1968/70 There is a great political and ideological commitment, which sees him engaged on the theme of the Vietnam War. He meets Marina Ripa Di Meana, on the occasion of the Spoleto Festival. With the woman intertwines a tumultuous relationship which then resulted in faithful friendship. It is she on several occasions who underlines the artist’s profoundly human side, the creativity freed from any market logic, the bohemian life dotted with debts, the desire to die young, untouched by the cynicism that disappointments and disillusionment lead to over time.
1972 Presents some interesting works at the Sirio Gallery for the Film review. The face of Marina Ripa di Meana begins to appear in her production, in conjunction with the themes of the plane, the obelisks, the small landscapes. He exhibited at the X Quadrennial in Rome.
1975 He meets Livia Lancellotti, who becomes his companion and will give him, in 1976, a daughter, Maria. He becomes a friend of Jack Kerouac, a bloody crop from a bar where he is expelled drunk. Hosted in the Via Germanico studio, he engages with the artist in the composition of a work The Deposition of Christ, later purchased by Gian Maria Volonté.
1978 Participates in the Venice Biennale, curated by Bonito Oliva in the Urban Iconosphere section. He also presents a short film.
1981 He is invited with some drawings, alongside Dorazio, De Chirico, Fontana, Guttuso, Maccari, Modigliani, Morlotti, Pozzati, and others, to a group exhibition at the Galleria La Scaletta in Reggio Emilia.
1982 Participates in the collective exhibition 30 years of Italian art 1950-80, organized at Villa Manzoni in Lecco. He composes works based on the influence of Kees Van Dongen (Thinking of Van Dongen).
1984 The Marionette era begins, a sort of ironic self-portrait of the artist, then exhibited at the Belvedere of San Lucio.
1986 Franco Angeli participates in the XI Roman Quadrennial.
1988 A retrospective is dedicated to him at the Casa del Machiavelli (1958-72) near Florence. Presented by Marisa Vescovo, she exhibited at the Rinaldo Rotta Gallery in Genoa. He was invited to the Giovanni XXIII Cultural Circle for the Biennial of Sacred Art: with him, Enzo Cucchi, Sandro Chia, Mimmo Paladino and Mario Schifano.
In the same year, Franco Angeli died of AIDS at the age of 53. The funeral is celebrated in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, chosen by the companion Livia for the boundless love of the artist towards Caravaggio (one of the altars is in fact dominated by The Conversion of Paul).