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In the course of the 1930s, it was not only a proposal of formal innovation that united Sassu, Luigi Grosso, Giacomo Manzů, and Renato Birolli, but also an interest in the evolution of the political, moral, and ideological situation of Italy. They were joined after 1933 by Fiorenzo Tomea and the students of Aldo Carpi who had just finished their studies at the Brera academy: Arnaldo Badodi, Giuseppe Migneco, Italo Valenti.

Thus there formed a first aggregation of what would soon become, between 1938 and 1943, the Corrente movement. A shared desire for a cultural openness toward what was happening in Europe, in contrast to Fascism, attracted artists and intellectuals of various backgrounds to the biweekly Vita giovanile, founded by Ernesto Treccani in January 1938, later called Corrente di vita giovanile and finally Corrente.

From the artistic point of view there emerged a search for a more politically and socially committed art, which moved away from the antihistoricism of celebratory art and the decadentism of art for art’s sake. The forced closing of the magazine by Fascist authorities on 10 June 1940 coincided with Italy’s entrance into the war, but the group continued its activity in the gallery Bottega degli Artisti for another year.


Battle (The Death
of Patroclus)

In the Bottega degli Artisti, in 1941, Sassu participated in the exhibition organized by Treccani, where he showed some forty or so pieces: oddly, these were mainly temperas from the series of red men of the period 1928-34.

The lack of examples of recent developments in his painting activity could perhaps be explained by the fact that the red men express more effectively his attempt to break free of the artistic conformism prevalent in those years, thanks to a spontaneity perceived as an absolute and as closer to Corrente neoromanticism.

Sassu’s activity in the 1940s is better exemplified by the solo exhibition held just prior to this one, in the Galleria Genova in Genoa. Solitudine appears on the cover of the catalogue, with inside The Big Café, The Death of Patroclus, Ballerine, and Battaglia di tre cavalieri.