Francesco del Drago rigorous intellectual and extraordinary artist, has covered almost a century of history as a protagonist, participating actively and with passion both in the artistic transformations that have followed in the twentieth century, as in the political changes.
Francesco del Drago was born in Rome on February 22, 1920.
Although his father Clemente was an amateur painter, he was his first teacher, instructing him on the first rudiments of oil technique. In 1932 his parents enrolled him in the courses of the painter Leone Alberto Rosa, author of “La Tecnica Della Pittura Dai Primordi ai Nostri Giorni”. Rosa, sensing in the 12-year-old a very strong urge toward the new, gave him Boccioni’s volume ‘Pittura Scultura Futuriste (Dinamismo Plastico) 1914.’ The book would strongly mark the young talent. The last war events, in which he participated as an officer of the Grenadiers, his commitment to the resistance as well as his classical studies, kept him several years away from painting. But it is a date only postponed: he will find it again by enrolling in the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. These are the years in which he befriends Severini, Morandi, Birolli, Ferrazzi, Guttuso, and Pignon.
Between Rome and Paris
In 1948 he obtained a studio at the Villa Massimo Academy from the Minister of Education. In this experience, he is in the company of five other artists who have been assigned as many studios and who will become his friends: Guttuso, Greco, Mazzacurati, Leoncillo, and Ciampolini. The association with these artists will constitute a fundamental moment in his artistic maturation.
In 1950 he was already recognized by established critics such as Guzzi, Maltese, Venturi, and Trucchi as one of the most gifted young painters.
In 1951 at the Borletti Prize, Guttuso presented him as Italy’s best painter of his age. However, despite the invitation to the Venice Biennale and the success of his first exhibition in 1950, he felt a sense of incompleteness compared to the achievements of the great French masters. Hence his decision, after two stays in 1948 and 1950, to move permanently to Paris in 1951. Here, he came into contact with Picasso, Léger, Bonnard, Matisse, and Dufy. In addition to these masters of form and color, he also frequented geometric abstractionists such as Herbin and Dewasne, as well as the youngest and most gifted Surrealist: Matta. Del Drago would arrive at extremely personal results, blending previous discoveries and new ideas around 1965.
Recognized as one of the best painters of the moment
From this time on, recognized as one of the best painters of the moment, he was invited to both the Salon de Mai and the Salon des Realité Nouvelles.
In the 1980s the major theoretical discoveries, including the different versions of the Chromatic Circle, were exhibited with assiduous lecturing in universities in many countries. But also the most original paintings which were synthesis of theory and attention to form. Until a few years before his death in 2011 he continued to paint. His last series was finalized in 2007, created between his studios in Paris and Filacciano.