Renato Di Bosso is the pseudonym of Renato Righetti, born in Verona in 1905 into a family of craftsmen and artists. His grandfather, father and uncle had in fact studied at the Accademia Cignaroli in Verona and were carvers and sculptors. Renato Di Bosso, too, after attending the School of Applied Art for Industry, enrolled at the Cignaroli Academy where he graduated in 1925. He thus began to exhibit his first works in Cuneo, which were still influenced by the verist climate of the late 19th century. A significant change came about between the 1920s and 1930s, following his reading of Umberto Boccioni’s Pittura e scultura futurista (Futurist Painting and Sculpture), which steered him towards the Futurist movement. Renato Di Bosso would thus become one of the protagonists of the second futurism and it was Marinetti himself who gave him the nickname ‘Di Bosso’ because of the passion that our sculptor had for this type of wood, boxwood, with which he made most of his sculptural works.
Renato Di Bosso’s art between sculpture and painting
Renato Di Bosso was greatly influenced by the greatest Futurist painter and sculptor who died during the First World War, and a Futurist group he founded in Verona in 1931 called ‘Gruppo veronese futurista Umberto Boccioni’ was dedicated to him. He also collaborated on a number of manifestos such as the Futurist Manifesto for the scenography of the open-air opera house in the Arena of Verona in 1932.
Also from 1932 he began to take an interest not only in sculpture but also in painting, dedicating himself in particular to Aeropittura, whose first work was presented at the Futurist Art Exhibition in Rome in 1933, Aerovisioni sintetiche simultanee del Lago di Garda, a canvas that was also exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1934.
Renato Di Bosso mainly used wood, but also unconventional materials such as crystal or aluminium, aluminium used for example to create his famous Anticravatte, the subject of a manifesto that the artist had signed together with his colleague Ignazio Scurto: Manifesto futurista sulla cravatta italiana.
In 1935, he was a guest at the Second Roman Quadrennial with Aeropittura: Agello, pilota campione and Milite della Rivoluzione Fascista, a plastic complex, the latter a faux-bronze wood sculpture revealing the influences of Oleksandr Archypenko’s Cubist sculpture. The Ukrainian sculptor was one of the first to develop Cubist space-time ideas in sculpture, to apply voids and to experiment with the use of various materials in the same sculpture.
Renato Di Bosso also reflected on the space-time problem in aeropainting and overcame it by creating rotating circular paintings that, by turning on a pivot, allow different visions. In doing so, he creates a perfect synthesis between his beloved sculpture and painting. An example of this experiment is Aeropittura su tavola rotonda exhibited at the 1938 Milan Exhibition.
The fascination of war in the art of Renato Di Bosso
From the mid-1930s, Renato Di Bosso became the protagonist of a figurative epic dedicated to war.
The artist also personally participated in reconnaissance flights, the imagery of which flowed into his works with distinct propagandistic accents in favour of the air force.
In 1939, in fact, at the Third Quadriennale in Rome, he presented two reflections on this subject: Aerosculpture of imperial squadrons and Aeropittura di una festa guerriera sul mare. At the Exhibition of the Fascist Union in Milan in 1941, he exhibited Balilla and Legionarians on the march; and in 1943, at the Fourth Rome Quadrennial he participated with two Aeropittura di guerra and Paracadutista lanciato.
In the 1940s, he also devoted himself to woodcuts and in 1941 he published the Manifesto dell’Aeroxilografia, although he had already experimented with this technique years earlier, exhibiting three woodcuts Piazza Erbe, Chiesetta al sole and Madonnina, a bronze Suora (nun mask) and a sculpture, San Giovannino, at the 1931 Fascist Syndicate Exhibition in Verona, where the influence of Adolf Wildt’s linearism and formal synthesis was still visible.
The Venice Biennials and the artistic break
Renato Di Bosso was also a guest at several Venice Biennials, such as the aforementioned 1934 edition. In 1936, in the Italian Futurism pavilion, he exhibited the wooden sculptures Il saluto fascista (The Fascist Salute), Legionari in marcia (Marching Legionnaires), the polymateric sculpture Soggetto religioso (Religious Subject), the wooden and plaster work Balilla (Balilla) and the sculpture Spiralando su Sabaudia (Spiralling over Sabaudia).
In 1940 he was a guest with two aeropictures Aeroritratto dell’aeropoeta Marinetti, Aeroritratto di Verossì and a wooden sculpture Giuocatore di pallacorda.
The last edition he took part in was that of 1942 in which he exhibited several works including Aeropittura di macchine di guerra, In volo sul villaggio M. Bianchi, Pilota stratosferico (aerosculpture) and woodcuts Regata a vela, Calcio, Motonautica, Ciclismo, Pugilato. 1944 was a very heavy year for our sculptor, in fact a bombing hit his studio, which was destroyed, as were many of the works contained within. 1944 is also the year of the death of Marinetti, the vate of the movement of which he was a member. After these two events, Renato Di Bosso suspended his activity for some twenty years, dedicating his energies to antiques.
It was only from the mid-1960s that he slowly resumed his artistic and exhibition activities on the wave of a revaluation and rediscovery of futurist art. He then returned to painting his favourite subjects, with the addition of new works on aeronautics. In his last years, he moved to Negrar di Valpolicella, a town in the province of Verona, and died there in 1982.