Mario Ballocco was a crucial figure in twentieth-century Italian art and culture.
A creative experimenter, he was a man of countless interests and a precursor in many spheres: an abstract painter of great consistency, he made a fundamental contribution to the spread of design and to research into colour and visual perception. Aspects of aesthetics and science, of communication and teaching, and of theory and technique all came together in him in the most exceptional way.
After studying with Aldo Carpi at the Accademia di Brera, in 1947 he was in Argentina, where he came into contact with Lucio Fontana. Back in Milan in 1950, he founded Gruppo Origine (whose members included Alberto Burri, Giuseppe Capogrossi and Ettore Colla) and launched and directed the magazines AZ (from 1949 to 1952) and Colore. Estetica e Logica (from 1957 to 1964). Ballocco was also the inventor of “chromatology”, an interdisciplinary method for solving “visual problems of collective interest”, which ranged from the colour of ambulances to that of exercise books for elementary-schools. His aim was to banish monotony “which makes us come into the world with white, live with grey, and die with black.” In the early 1960s Ballocco introduced chromatology as a subject of study at the Accademia di Brera, and later he also held courses at the Carrara in Bergamo and at the Polytechnic University of Milan.
He twice exhibited at the Venice Biennale with tribute-solos (in 1970 and 1986), and his works are now in the collections of important museums in Italy and abroad.