Bicycle Diaries: Fascist bike art?

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Fascist bike art?

Gino Boccasile

The famous Italian illustrator was born in Bari; the son of a perfumer. Little Gino showed a precocious aptitude for design early on. He completed studies at the fine art school in his home town; and after the death of his father in 1925, moved to Milan, the center of the design world. Despite initial difficulties, he eventually gained a post at the Mauzan-Morzenti Agency. Over the next few years he produced sports posters and illustrated fashion magazines.

Following the lead of fellow poster artist Achille Mauzan, Boccasile went to Buenos Aires for a time where he met his future spouse Alma Corsi. He also visited Paris, where the Paris Tabou dedicated an entire issue to his work, and participated in the 1932 Salon des Ind├ępendants. Returning to Milan, he opened a publicity agency called Acta with his friend Franco Aloi. It was there that he found his real creative outlet.

But wait there's more ... A supporter of Benito Mussolini, Boccasile produced propaganda material for the government. This included several racist and anti-semitic posters. After the war he was imprisoned and tried for collaborating with the Fascists and although acquitted, he remained an outcast. He could not find work for a few years as his signature was feared by prospective employers.

Nonetheless, he supported himself by doing erotic sketches for English and French publishers, and by 1946, after slightly changing his style, Boccasile was back at work. He set up his own agency in Milan where he created memorable posters for Paglieri cosmetics, Chlorodont toothpaste, and Zenith footwear, all bearing his signature.

He died prematurely in Milan, from bronchitis and pleurisy, in 1952.

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