Andrea Badami


is best known for his humorous paintings, full of irony and produced in an exaggerated Pop Art style, which possess a fusion of American and Italian sensibilities. Popart was an art movement of the 1960s and 1970s that incorporated elements of modern popular culture and the mass media. Badami was self-taught and painted hisentire life, but was most active as an artist between 1960 and 1990.Badami’s life was as colorful as his work. He was born on October 27, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. When he was five, his parents took him back to their nativehome in Corleone, Sicily. In 1929 he returned to Omaha to live with an uncle, but two years later he returned to Corleone and was married. Conscripted intoMussolini’s army in 1940, he was captured by the British in North Africa, and spent the rest of World War II in prisoner of war camps in India and Britain. When hereturned to Sicily in 1946, he contacted the American consulate in Palermo to reassert his American citizenship, and soon after, returned to the United States. He brought his family to America in 1948, and worked in the repair shop for the Union Pacific Railroad, in Omaha, Nebraska.Badami spent all of his spare time painting, determined to become a better artist. Lacking proficiency in English, art became a way in which he could relate his pastexperiences and express his personal view of the world. Tom Bartek, associated with the Joselyn Museum and Creighton University in Omaha, recognized Badami’stalent and appreciated the humor and pop images in his work, and exhibited some of the artist’s paintings in the 1960s.In 1978, after thirty years of service, Badami retired from the Union Pacific Railroad. Several years later he moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he continued to make paintings, until his death.
Mother Nursing Child
(1974), for example, is a forthrightly sensuous nude, the mother nursing a robust baby and holding a bar of soap. By all accounts the artistnever used live models, which is surprising because his figures are so realistic. The saints and Madonnas in the artist’s paintings are a reflection of his Italian andreligious upbringing, yet the overall impact of a Badami painting is always American because of their references to popular culture.Badami’s
Adam and Eve in the Sight of God
(c. 1969) is a play on the traditional Garden of Eden scene, with the snake and a figure of God rendered in the styleof William Blake. The partially clothed Eve is voluptuous, while the nude Adam warms himself by a campfire. The trees in the background are painted using small dotsin a Pointillist manner.
See also
Painting, American Folk; Religious Folk Art
Hemphill, Herbert W.Jr., and Julia Weissman.
Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists.
New York, 1974.Maresca, Frank, and Roger Ricco.
merican Self-Taught: Drawings and Paintings by Outsider Artists.
New York, 1993.Rosenak, Chuck. “Rediscovering Andrea Badami.”
The Clarion,
vol. 12 (spring/summer 1987): 50–53