One of the only female pioneers of the Italian Avant-Garde movement in 1960s, Dadamaino broke the mold, and is now viewed as one of the most influential artists of her generation. Dadamaino is best known for her Volumi series, in which she cut elliptical and circular holes into canvas. A self-taught artist, Dadamaino lived an incredibly rich and eclectic career thanks to her ever-changing oeuvre.

Dadamaino was first interested in medicine, but switched career paths to the art world in the end of the 1950s. After joining the Azimuth (Italy, founded by Piero Manzoni) and ZERO (Germany) collectives—and taking inspiration from Spatialist and Minimalist masters Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein—she became interested in the relationship between art and space and how it can be represented through shapes.

In the Volumi series, she masterfully plays with light and shadows by juxtaposing black and white tones and using negative space. Discussing her artistic approach and style, Dadamaino stated, “I have always loathed the material and have always sought the immaterial.” To her, art had become static and needed to become dynamic again; this search for artistic dynamism led the creation of progressive new works. Dadamaino moved to experimentation with the popular Op Art movement in the 1970s, creating optical illusion paintings. A decade later, she turned to semiotics, drawing tiny symbols and pseudo-letters obsessively and repetitively across canvas and paper.

An underlying and hidden theme, Dadamaino claimed, to her work and the consistent reinvention of herself as an artist was chance: “[T]his is the discourse that I maintained throughout my entire life: we think we do one thing but in reality we do what we really want to. Chance comes into play and undercuts all our objectives.”

Dadamaino was born as Eduarda Emilia Maino in Milan, Italy. She exhibited twice at the Venice Biennale, in 1980 and 1990. Her work can be seen in collections around the world, including the Tate Modern in London, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, and the Foundation of Concrete Art in Germany.

Dadamaino died in 2004 in Milan.


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