(via The art dealer Giorgio Marconi about the Enrico Baj’s picassian masterpiece)
"In 1972, while Enrico Baj was working on I funerali dell’anarchico Pinelli, I went to visit him more than once in his studio, not only because of the number of years of friendship that united us, but also out of curiosity to see what he was up to, especially considering the problems posed by the size of the work, which was to be a good twelve-me- tres long. I must say I was immediately impressed by the ingenuity and at the same time simplicity of the solution Baj had adopted. In order to work comfortably on such a vast surface, and to render the painting transportable without ex- cessive difficulty, he had conceived it as a series of parts that could be dismantled and reassembled as a sort of puz- zle, cutting the panels along the outlines of the figures so as to make the joins between the various pieces practically invisible (in contrast with what he did in Guernica, where the marks of the cuts between one panel and another are clearly evident). All of it was carried out in his favourite technique of collage.
Between studies and drafts, the preparation of the profiles and the final product, Enrico worked on the piece for some months, and in the meantime proceeded with the plan to exhibit it once it was finished. It was Paolo Pil- litteri, the councillor for Cultural Affairs for the City of Milan, who offered him the Sala delle Cariatidi in the Palazzo Reale, left half ruined from the bombardments of the Second World War, and perhaps precisely because of its “tragic” condi- tion, Enrico found it suitable to host his work.
The show was to open on 17 May 1972, and the catalogue and the posters were both ready. But on that very morning police chief Luigi Calabresi was shot dead as he left home. It was he who had directed the investigations into the massacre in Piazza Fontana, investigations during which Giuseppe Pinelli met his death.
The order was immediately received to cancel everything “for technical reasons”, and Baj’s show at the Palazzo Reale never took place at all.
Following this, Baj decided to give the painting to the family of the unfortunate Pinelli.
“Thank you”, said Licia, his widow, “but where can I put it? I’ve got two rooms…”
“Never mind”, said Baj, adding in his usual practical way, “we’ll sell it, that way you’ll have the money for the girls to study.”
Then he came to me and said: “Why don’t you buy the Pinelli you like?”
How could I say no to him? And so from then on the work has always been with me, and over the years I’ve often accompanied it around the world: from Rotterdam to Stockholm, Geneva to Menton, from Mantua as far as Miami in Florida, from Locarno to Darmstadt, and finally I exhibited it for the first time in Milan, in my gallery, in February 2000.
Now I’m left with the hope of seeing it permanently on show in a public space in Milan, where everyone who wants to can see it”.
(From Enrico Baj. Monumentum, Milan: Fondazione Marconi, 2007)