A central figure in the East Village art scene that thrived during the 1960s, poet, painter, sculptor and pioneering multi-media artist Aldo Tambellini (1930 – 2020) has only begun to be recognized for his prescient and innovative art. Born in the US in 1930 and raised in Lucca, Italy, Tambellini lived in an area bombed during WWII; twenty-one of his friends and neighbors died in the assault.
Tambellini returned to the US in 1946. He received his BFA in Painting from Syracuse University in 1954, and received a Teaching Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame, completing his MFA in 1959. He then moved to New York City’s Lower East Side and founded the counter-cultural alliance of writers, artists and activists, Group Center, which invented new ways to present art to the public, outside of the institution.
Aldo and his wife Elsa Tambellini founded the Gate Theatre in New York’s East Village, which was unique and extremely influential in its schedule of showing a program of avant-garde and independent films every day. In 1967, he co-founded, with Otto Piene (1928 – 2014), the Black Gate, a second theatre which presented live multimedia performances and installations. The artists whose works graced their stage and screen included Jack Smith, the Kuchar brothers, Nam June Paik, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Downey and Brian DePalma.