Dadamaino: just a hole in a canvas?
Born in Milan in 1930, Eduarda Emilia Maino took up art after completing a medical degree. She met Piero Manzoni in 1957 and soon they started a long-lasting friendship. One year later, after adhering to the Milanese avant-garde, Eduarda Emilia Maino created her first body of work, entitled “Volumi”. These “Volumes” consisted of great canvases interrupted by large elliptical holes, which somehow resemble Fontana’s cuts and holes.
Dadamaino, 'Volume', 1959
Dadamaino in her studio, Milan, 1995.
"I used to cut black canvases and obtain oval-shaped gashes. At times it was just one cut, as large as the entire painting. After this act of freedom, I used to be uncertain about how to go on with my work. The way came from Futrism. Behind those large holes I used to see a wall full of lights and shades that moved and vibrated. Suddenly I understood that was the aim of my research. Art had been static, except for a few. Art needed to be dynamic."
In 1959 she joined the Milan-based experimental group Azimuth, founded by Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani and Agostino Bonalumi. The group had multiple connections with Group Zero in Germany, Group Nul in the Netherlands and Group Motus in France. These artistic movements had a relevant influence on Maino’s works.
In 1961 the artist took part in a show in the Netherlands, where her name was mistakenly spelt as “Dadamaino”. From 1963-64 onwards she would adopt this as her name.
In the first half of 1960, particularly fascinated with the idea of movement, she created a series of optical-dynamic objects, followed by the "Ricerca del colore" (1966-68), series in which she undertook a scrupulous analysis of the solar spectrum’s chromatic combinations.
Dadamaino, 'Ricerca del colore', 1968
In 1970 Dadamaino’s work took on a new different direction: Maino developed “L’Alfabeto della mente”, a series of seven alphabet-like signs repeated on paper. Dadamaino filled her compositions by selecting one sign at the time and repeating it endlessly, throughout multiplication and hoarding. Thanks to innovative solutions and materials, she gave life to a rich corpus centred on the subconscious. She resorted to the same set of signs in her following cycle, "I fatti della vita", which she exhibited in a solo room at the Venice Biennale in 1980.
Dadamaino, 'L'alfabeto della Mente. Lettera 10', 1980
In 1983 a large retrospective of her work was organized by the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) in Milan, and n 1990 she participated again in the Venice Biennale. A full retrospective of her work was mounted in 2000 by the Bochum museum in Bochum.
Dadamaino died in Milan ten years ago.
From the first of the "Volumi", then the "Inconsci Razionali" and "Alfabeti della mente", to her more recent "Movimenti delle cose", the artist irrepressible ability to perpetuate a refined lightness in all her works has shined out throughout the years.
As far as the art market is concerned, Dadamaino’s works are right now among the most requested and desired by European collectors. Their value is increasingly growing up. During the last Christie’s “Italian Sale” in London, a “Volume” 70 x 50 has been sold for £67’000 whereas during Sotheby's "Italian Sale" in London a "Volume" 140 x 120 has been sold for £122'500.