Dadamaino Italian, 1930-2004


Eduarda Emilia Maino was born on October 2, 1935 in Milan. A self-taught painter Dada (diminutive for Eduarda) took up art after completing a medical degree. In 1957 she met Piero Manzoni who became a life-long friend. The following year she adhered to the Milanese avant-garde and created her first substantial body of work, the Volumi, punctured canvases which bear a strong resemblance to Fontana’s Buchi. This same year Dada had her first solo show at the Galleria dei Bossi in Milan.


In 1959 she joined the Milan-based experimental group Azimuth (founded by Bonalumi, Castellani and Manzoni) which had connections with Group Zero in Germany, Group Nul in the Netherlands, and Group Motus in France. In 1961 the artist took part in a show in the Netherlands, where her name was mistakenly spelt as one word, Dadamaino. From 1963-64 onwards she would adopt this name. In 1962 her work was featured in the major Nul group exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. This same year she joined the newly founded Nouvelle Tendence movement whose members included Getulio Alviani, Bruno Munari, Raphael Soto and Enzo Mari. In the first half of the decade, particularly fascinated with the idea of movement she created a series of optical-dynamic objects, these were followed by the Ricerca del colore (1966-68) in which she undertook a scrupulous analysis of the solar spectrum’s chromatic combinations.


In the 1970s Dadamaino’s work took on a different direction as she developed a set of invented signs. Notable among these is L’Alfabeto della mente, a series of seven alphabet-like signs. Dadamaino filled her compositions which resembled written letters by selecting one sign at the time and repeating it endlessly. She resorted to the same set of signs in her following cycle, I fatti della vita, which she showed in a solo room at the Venice Biennale in 1980.Three years later a large retrospective of her work was organized by the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) in Milan, and in 1990 she participated again in the Venice Biennale. A full retrospective of her work was mounted in 2000 by the Bochum museum in Bochum. Dadamaino died on April 13, 2004 in Milan.