Thursday, May 24, 2012

Who was Silvio?

Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, when New York City had several excellent Spanish-language bookstores, the numerous volumes of Losada's Biblioteca clásica y contemporánea were a mainstay of their shelves. The paper and typography may not have been the greatest but they were relatively inexpensive and had simply but attractively designed covers (which, unfortunately, were easily soiled). Most of not all of the cover illustrations in the series, and all of the ones shown here, were by the prolific, but surprisingly elusive, Silvio Baldessari. (The top image, also by Baldessari, is from Losada's Novelistas de nuestra época series.) I only own a few of the books at this point so these images are mostly pilfered from the web.

Oddly, there is little information on the web about Silvio Baldessari. The best source I have found so far is from the blog Los parrafistas:
Silvio Baldessari is probably the most prolific book illustrator in the history of Argentina. Working always in a Picasso-Pop-Expresionist style that is so readily recognizable (his real signature, more so than the miniscule one that almost always appears at the bottom of his work), he designed each and every one of the covers of Losada's "Biblioteca Clásica y Contemporánea" y "Novelistas de nuestra época," as well as illustrating countless covers for the publishing house Paidós, above all in the collection "Letras Argentinas," and, it is said, served as the art director and designer for various Latin American publishers. But here's the point: I said "it is said" because, believe it or not, I couldn't find ONE single bibliographical reference on this artist on the ENTIRE internet. How is this possible? Not only that, but all the illustrations that I could find of this artist were put up by internet sellers, that is to say, no one has ever taken the trouble to scan an image of the artist, but only of the book.

I would like to talk more about this illustrator, but, as I said, I couldn't find a single line about his life, except that he was born in 1916, that he managed, at least in my case, to compel me to buy the book, regardless of its quality, and that he designed (this is mostly a conjecture based on my own experience than a non-existent statistical confirmation) hundreds and hundreds of book covers...
Baldessari appears to have published at least one book of his own illustrations, entitled Sinblabla or Sinblablá:

No doubt there's more information out there, somewhere, on this productive and talented artist, whose work would have been so familiar to generations of readers throughout Latin America and beyond.

Thanks to Berliac of Los parrafistas for permission to include two images and a translation of portions of his original post.

1 comment:

@arteencontrado said...

LOVE THIS. Have been trying to find out more about Silvio, have a collection of these in my personal library and pick them up whenever I run into them in used bookstores.