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In 1934 Sassu, taking advantage of his uncle’s offer of a ride in his car, went to Paris, where he stayed for three months. He would repeat the experience the following year, this time staying six months, and again a third time between the end of 1935 and the beginning of 1936.

His desire to know and to measure himself against a new cultural environment, so stimulating for a young painter, led him to frequent the meeting places of artists and intellectuals, cafés and bars, among them the Cupole, the Dôme, and the newly inaugurated chain of cafés called Chez Dupont, from which he drew new inspiration to continue the series of cafés begun in Italy in the early 1930s. He visited an exhibition of collages by Mirò on Rue Bonaparte, about which he was not very enthusiastic, and one of works by Matisse and Van Gogh at Rosemberg’s, where he met the critic Venturi.


Grey Café

Sassu had already read Venturi’s Il gusto dei Primitivi of 1926, from which he took suggestions for the creation of his red men, and he was also familiar with the magazine L’Arte, which Venturi edited from 1930 on with his father Adolfo; he particularly appreciated some articles in L’Arte on the painting of Degas and Renois.

In the French capital he met, besides Severini, to whom he had already been introduced in Milan by Persico, many of the italiens de Paris like Mario Tozzi, Massimo Campigli, Filippo De Pisis, and Alberto Magnelli. Through Antonio Aniante, a journalist from Catania, he was able to show at the Galerie des quatre chemins, along with Fiorenzo Tomea and Francis Gruber, future exponent of European existentialist realism.


The Red Leaves

His passion for sports, to which he dedicated numerous works, led him into contact with Cleto Locatelli, European middleweight boxing champion.

The experience which undoubtedly fascinated him most was his visit to the Louvre. Here he observed and studied artists like Poussin, whom Sassu admired for his compositional rhythm and balance between the parts more than for his use of color, and Renoir, whose mature production he was also able to see, in which the French painter rediscovered form and a sense of plasticity.

He had read Delacroix’s Diaries; he admired the texture of Delacroix’s painting, his way of definitively resolving details and bringing things to completion. One of his favorite places was Saint Sulpice.



Direct acquaintance with the work of these artists contributed to modifying Sassu’s compositional language; from this point on he would seek an increasingly balanced distribution of the parts and a greater solidification of color.

A comparison between his works on the battle theme produced before and after his experience in Paris, like Battle of 1934 and Battle of 1935, makes this evolution evident.

His stay in the French capital led him also to a greater political commitment. He painted there, in 1935, Execution in the Asturas, in which a man of the people is led by the Civil Guards to his execution; the scene is invented, although inspired by the insurrection which took place in Spain in 1934.