Dora Bassi was a sculptor and painter from Friuli Venezia Giulia, protagonist and witness of the main schools of Italian art in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Bassi studied at Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence (1939) and in Venice (1941-1944) and, after the second World War, she embraced neorealism, recently born from the ashes of the “Fronte Nuovo delle Arti”. [1] She then joined the group “Numero,” founded by Fiamma Vigo in Florence where exponents of abstractionism gathered. In the Seventies she opened her own sculpture studio, where she created works in terracotta, bronze, iron, and steel for both public and private commissions.
From 1971 to 1991, Bass taught sculpture at Accademia in Brera with Dino Basaldella and Giancarlo Marchese, during a time of renewal of art academies; she curated didactic projects on the function of sculpture for the requalification of urban spaces. In Milan, she collaborated with the magazine “Lapis,” edited by Lea Melandri, writing critical essays on lesser known figures in Italy, such as Charlotte Salomon, Leonor Fini, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jenny Holzer. She participated in conferences organised and promoted by IAWA (International Women and Arts) and was president of DARS – Donna Arte Ricerca Sperimentazione (Woman, Art, Research, Experimentation) in Udine until 1991, curating international themed exhibitions displaying works by Italian and European female artists.
Bassi’s constant production and activity of exhibition that had characterised the Seventies and the Eighties, encountered a turning point in the Nineties. After taking the expressive intensity of colour from the places of art, transforming it into matter for her sculptural shapes, and after engaging in a dialogue with abstraction and conceptual art, Dora Bassi started a solitary journey, unhinged from the rules of the market and from the interferences of aesthetic theories. Her new efforts speak the language of authorial freedom, of matter transformed into light.
In the last years of her activity, until her death, Bassi’s works acquired pictorial refinement as they entered within the narrative dimension of art that is registered within the perception of existence and its echoes. Dora Bassi composed pictorial cycles taking images from memory; she created spaces in which to immerse daily life objects to evoke the anxieties of contemporaneity. The motor of her art is narrative, the matter is old oil painting, and the instrument is light – light, evocative, allusive – radiating from the canvas.
As Elena Pontiggia points out, “while styles change across her work, the main theme of her research remains the same. Despite taking different forms, Bassi’s art focuses on a single subject: life. Dora always deals with life: life in all its manifestations (humans, nature, the relationship between the sexes, daily routine), in all its feelings (love, suffering, dream, memory), in its seasons (childhood, youth, senility and the premonition of death). These were the things she cared about and these are the things she always tried to represent.” (E. Pontiggia, Dora Bassi. Una ricerca instancabile. Opere dal 1950 al 2006). [2]
Dora Bassi died in Udine on 7 August 2007. Gorizia, the city of her youth, received a donation of some of her later works.

[1] Literally meaning “New Front of the Arts”, an Italian artistic movement, generally considered to be part of the post-cubist movement, particularly active in Venice, Rome, and Milan in the years following WWII (1946 to 1950).
[2] Where not stated otherwise, translations are ours.