Below is a selection of Caruso’s most important drawings and paintings; from the stark neorealism of post-war Palermo, to the the rise of the Mafia, the horrors of the Sicily’s psychiatric wards, the hypocrisy of global political systems, and his own reflections on the mythology of Modern Art.

 

Click on the thumbnails below to explore a specific period, or keep scrolling down the page to see the whole selection. There are 30 pictures in each section.

 

Caruso’s style emerged from rubble of post-war Palermo, a city razed by the American carpet bombing of 1943. His early work is a portrait of loneliness, focusing on the city’s crumbling suburbs, isolated workers and timber warehouses.



His pictures are micrograms, each with its tiny charge of poetry, neatly set and as neatly detonated by the nice alignment of his wiry line
— John Russell, Sunday Times. 1955.

Throughout the 1950’s Caruso regularly exhibited at the prestigious Galleria dell’Obelisco in Rome, founded by Irene Brin and Gaspero del Corso. The majority of this work ended up in the collections of high profile patrons of the Arts and Museums across the United States, Paris, London, Milan and Rome.



Bruno Caruso is Sicilian in body and soul. His appearance reveals unmistakably the mixed Greek, Roman, Saracen and Norman blood found on the island. He is deeply and passionately attached to his home town of Palermo, and his art would be unthinkable without his Sicilian background.
— Manuel Gasser, Graphis 73. 1957

Caruso spent much of the 1950’s working closely with the patients of Palermo’s Psychiatric Hospital. The horror of what he saw in those wards drove him to campaign actively for dramatic overhaul of system alongside Franco Basaglia, one of the pioneers of the modern concept of mental health.



What Caruso has captured is the duality with which one understands being sectioned: the misery, the poverty, the degradation, the brutality, and all combined, madness as the only form of expression for those confined to a place where madness is the norm.”
— Franco Basaglia, 26 November 1975.

 

Caruso’s father was an engineer. As the 1950’s drew to a close, Caruso began creating illustrations on the theme of industry and power for magazines like ‘Civiltà delle macchine’, ‘Italsider’ and ‘Fortune’, as well as books like Olivetti’s ‘Dalla calligrafia alla memoria’.

 


Overwhelmed by the political turmoil of the Vietnam War and his own fight against the Mafia in Italy, Caruso spent the 60’s and 70’s torn between the capturing the madness of mankind and the beauty of nature. He created three major collections during this period including ‘An Ode to Madness’, ‘Animalistic Repertoire’ and his ‘Manuscript on the Marvels of Nature.’



Caruso spent the first half of his life experiencing first-hand the corruption, injustice and greed inflicted upon others around the world. He contributed actively to newspapers and magazines like L’Ora, L’Unita and Vie Nuove. This work was collated into five collections featured in this section, including ‘The Iron Fist’, ‘Paper Tiger’, ‘Peace on Earth’, ‘Totum Procedit Ex-Amore’ and ‘Americana’.



His drawings are incisive, harsh, conscientiously merciless and strike at the heart of the hypocrisy of our times. His moral zeal gives his designs rare force: not the force of realism, which is a very different thing, but of truth.”
— Giulio Carlo Argan, Italian Art Historian.

Caruso was a card carrying Communist, and campaigned actively against the rise of the Mafia, losing many close friends, like Giovanni Falcone, along the way. His fight against the endemic corruption in Italian politics climaxed in the 1970’s when he fought three legal cases against Sindona, Gioia and Vito Ciancimino.