Enrico Donati Italy & United States, 1909-2008


Enrico Donati (b. 1909, Milan, Italy; d. 2008, New York, New York) was an Italian-American painter and sculptor best known for his participation in the Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist movements. Educated in science at the University of Pavia in Lombardy, Italy, Donati moved to Paris in 1933 to pursue musical composition. At the onset of World War II in 1940, Donati and his wife and daughters fled the violence in Europe and relocated to New York. There, the artist enrolled in art classes at the New School for Social Research, where he was later given his first solo exhibition in 1943. That same year, he made the acquaintance of André Breton, the leader of the Surrealists, in addition to other exiles from the group. Over the course of his career, Donati experimented with unconventional materials such as sand, dust, coffee grounds, mixed quartz, and even debris from his vacuum cleaner to achieve complex textural surfaces. Donati enjoyed critical success during his lifetime, participating in important solo and group exhibitions throughout his career until his death in 2008. His work is now held in the collections of major global institutions, including The Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.