Agostino Ferrari was born in 1938, in Milan.
He commenced his career as a professional artist in 1959.
In 1961 he held his first one-man show at the Galleria Pater, in Milan. Together with his friends, the painters Arturo Vermi, Angelo Verga, Ettore Sordini, Ugo La Pietra, and the poet Alberto Lùcia, he founded the Gruppo del Cenobio in 1962. In the same year he held a one-man show at the Galleria del Cenobio in Milan. It was at this time that emerged what has been the guiding thread of his work right up until the present day: the sign.
In 1963 the sign was transformed into out-and-out writing, a multicolored and dynamic script; this was the period of the Manifestos.
In 1964-1965 he made two visits to New York.
From 1966 to 1967 his work showed a tendency toward plasticity that led him to investigate the possibility of putting the sign in relation with a Total Form; Lucio Fontana presented one of his exhibitions. At the same time, and up until 1971, Ferrari resumed his investigation of sign and produced pictures in which a transparent surface represented the Symbol-Sign, while the positive Physical Sign was in relief and the negative Physical Sign was cut into the surface. These made up the Theater of Sign.
From 1972 to 1975 he sought to determine the psychological reactions that colors produced in him, and in particular the interrelationships of these and signs and forms. He gave the title Sign Form Color to these pictures. In 1972 at the Galleria San Fermo and in 1974 at the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica, both in Milan, he presented Sign Form Color as an installation set up within the space 20,000,000 Light Years designed by Vermi. This work led on to the realization of a large-scale work in 1975: the Self Portrait, exhibited at the Art 6/75 in Basel and then in the Rotonda della Besana in Milan.
In 1978 the desire emerged to return to the sign as a means of expression, as the only element that fitted closely with his states of mind. As a result, he produced Gardens and Memories, works made up of sign-signals, as “gestures” in bright colors, in an attempt to develop a less rigorously theoretical form of sign-painting. Out of this experience carne his desire for a “refoundation.” He held a series of exhibitions in various countries: in New York, Brussels, Dallas, Berlin, Bonn, Frankfurt, Cologne, and so on.
From 1979 to 1982 sign resumed its predominant pIace in works that were concerned with time and memory.
From 1983 to the present day his treatment of sign has centredon the Events, in which the sign is completely free of superstructures and is realized in its totality. Yet the sign is not just the equivalent of writing, it is a sign-symbol, an emblem, created out of sand as it is a material of great “tactile theatricality.”
Agostino Ferrari currently lives and works in Milan.