(b Bagheria, nr. Palermo, 2 Jan. 1912; d Rome, 18 Jan. 1987). Italian painter. He was a forceful personality and Italy's leading 20th-century exponent of Social Realism; he never subordinated artistic quality to political propaganda, but his art was often the direct expression of his hatred of injustice and of the abuse of power. In 1931 he abandoned legal studies for painting, in which he was mainly self-taught.
He settled in Rome in 1937 and in the following year became a founder member of the anti-Fascist association Corrente. Fascism was not his only target, however, for he also pilloried the Mafia and in 1943 published a series of drawings protesting against the massacres that took place under the German occupation of Italy. After the war (in which he worked with the Resistance) he became a member of the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti in 1946. His post-war works were often inspired by the struggles of the Sicilian peasantry, and his other subjects included the 1968 student riots in Paris, a city he often visited. Many of his paintings were large, with allegorical overtones, typically painted in a vigorous Expressionist style.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)