There were a few years when copies of How to Imagine: a Narrative on Art and Agriculture (1983) seemed ubiquitous in lower Manhattan bookstores, sometimes even displayed near the cash registers as an impulse buy. The book (still in print from its original publisher McPherson & Co.) documents a long, fascinating conversation between Baruchello and his friend, critic-translator Henry Martin. The subject is the Agricola Cornelia, a farm outside of Rome where Baruchello had been living since 1973.
After a decade of exhibiting his assemblages and paintings throughout Europe (and in a couple of solo shows in New York), Baruchello dropped out of the artworld, but not out of art. An admirer—and friend—of Duchamp, he was ready to designate his everyday activities as art. At the same time, he needed to escape the political paranoia and terrorist whirlpool that was Italy after the dreams of 1968 had fizzled out.
Baruchello’s agricultural take on Duchamp has long obscured his more mainstream art activities, which range from Nouveau-Realiste assemblages in the early 1960s (often employing stacks of magazines or newspapers) to diagrammatic, intentionally washed-out abstractions and—my favorite—cartoony drawings of fragmented bodies and objects drifting through space. Imagine Situationist psycho-geographic maps drawn by Marcel Dzama. Baruchello’s work has deep affinities with the art of his friend Oyvind Fahlstrom, though on a more modest scale (apart from the Agricola Cornelia). His drawings look amazingly contemporary, presaging not only Dzama but an entire generation of ‘zine artists. Recently, he has been combining his skills as a draughtsman and assemblagiste in Cornell-like boxes. He had a solo show at Michael Janssen in Berlin in February 2010.