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Biography

Ruggero Alfredo Michahelles, also known as RAM, was born in Florence on May 30, 1898 in Florence. Raised in a wealthy and cosmopolitan family of intellectual artists, descendant from the famous neoclassical American sculptor Hiram Powers.

In his early years, even before ending his studies, RAM shows a strong interest for painting, that leads him first to attend the laboratory of Filippo Marfori Savini, a prominent Italian etching-maker, and the studio of the American painter Julius Rolshoven, along with his brother Ernesto Michahelles also known as THAYAHT, unbeknownst to the father .

His early debut dates back to 1914, where he displays an array of portraits, Tuscan landscapes and engravings, starting to be known in the context of the design and graphics, RAM will issue his first liberty cartoons on the “Corriere dei Piccoli”, in 1918.

1920 is a milestone year for RAM; along with his brother THAYAHT, collaborates to the invention and the disclosure of the TuTa, a universal outfit, suitable for anyone. The “tuta” somehow reminded of a precocious tangency with the activity and the poetics of the futurists.

In summer 1921, he achieves the diploma of “Chemical-Colorist” at the National Institute of Chemical Dyeing and Weaving in Prato. Nonetheless, in 1923 he graduates in chemistry at the University of Florence and takes part of the Florentine artistic life: he joins the organisation of Fine Arts Guild and the Ist Artist Trade Union; the following year he wins along with his brother THAYAHT, the National Competition, “Premio Nazionale dell’Italica”, opened to every contemporary artist living in Tuscany, for the scenography of the “Aida”. Meanwhile, he also joins the “Gruppo Toscano Futurista”, turning his name into the pseudonym of RAM.

From now on he begins a long journey shifting from Florence to frequent trips to Paris.
In 1926 he begins his collaboration with the magazine “Natura” and with “La Rivista Illustrata del Popolo d’Italia”, for which he creates the covers. Meanwhile, he also works for the Ministry of tourism by creating billboards. He also collaborates with the mounting of the Artisan’s and Agriculture exhibitions.

1927 is an essential year for RAM, since in Paris he entertains with Magnelli, De Chirico, Campigli, Mario Tozzi, Marini, Loira, Denis, Othon Friesz, Carrà, Zadkin, De Pisis, Mirò, Léger, Savinio, Paresce, Kisling, Jacovleff, Bakst, Massine, Lifar, San Lazzaro, Borsi and Ezra Pound. In this climate, he develops a style of painting strongly inspired by metaphysics of a modern and rare classicism, the so-called by the artist neo-metaphysics. As De Chirico will suggest him, later in 1931, he will begin to use the “Italianized” surname of Micaelles.

In 1928 his first personal exhibition takes place at Palazzo Feroni in Florence, where he exhibits many works based on the recovery of shapes and plastics reclaiming the works of the early XXth century. He is also invited to the XVIth Biennale di Venezia, where he exhibits the painting “Il cipresso della strada” .

In 1930 he participates to the XVII Biennale di Venezia with a sculpture of terracotta named “Madre Solare”, and joins the “IVth Mostra Regionale d’Arte Toscana”.

The following year in 1931, he takes part to the “1st Quadriennale Nazionale di Roma” and to the “Mostra Futurista . Pittura Scultura Aeropittura”, introduced by Marinetti and organized by his brother THAYAHT and by Antonio Marasco at the Art Gallery of Florence.

He eventually issues a treaty of functional architecture “Brevetto per Casolaria, Le case in serie”; “Casa d’oggi”, “Casa minima” and “Casa media”.
In this period he also wins the third prize at the contest organized by the Metro Goldwyn Mayer, to promote the movie “Ben Hur” with the sculpture named “4 H.P. x 1931” (the Quadriga of 1929). Later, the same sculpture will participate to the contest held by the “XVIII Biennale di Venezia” of 1932 for the celebration of the “Primo Decennale della Marcia su Roma”, contest with the theme “The Victory of Fascism”, granting him the first prize.
In 1932, along with his brother THAYAHT, drafts the “Manifesto per la trasformazione dell’abbigliamento maschile”, participates to the “V Mostra Regionale di Arte Toscana”, exposing various aerosculptures and subsequently exposes together with the futurist group at the Galleria Pesaro in Milan for the “Mostra Futurista di Aeropittura e Scenografia”. During the same year, RAM marries the Countess Olga Olsoufieff, daughter of the Count Vassili Olosufieff and the Countess Olga Schouwalow. They will later divorce in 1937.

In 1933 he participates to the National Contest of the Florence Railway Station, for the project of the urban planners Bianchini-Fagnoni with the “Stele Ferroviaria”, a wooden model of architectural sculpture, that should have been placed in front of the station of Florence. In the same year he joins the exhibition “Arte Sacra Futurista” in Palazzo Feroni, organized by Fillia and Marasco; there he exposes “La Vittoria del Fascismo”, the plan and the sculpture “Monumento al Marinaio Italiano” that was supposed to be built in Brindisi. Furthermore, he joins the exhibition “Omaggio Futurista a Umberto Boccioni” at the Galleria Pesaro of Milan, where he introduces the “Stele Ferrovaria”.

In 1934, he participates to the “Mostra d’Arte Toscana a Firenze”.

In 1935 he joins the “II Quadriennale di Roma”. Meanwhile, he also takes part to the “Mostra Futurista di Aeropittura” in Milan, and begins his cooperation with ENIT (Italian office of Tourism).

In 1936 he is invited to the “XX Biennale di Venezia”, with his work “Il Duce” (L’Uomo XIV). On November, he hosts an important personal exhibition of 34 works in Paris, at “Galérie Le Niveau” introduced in a related catalogue by Giorgio De Chirico. The following year he is selected for the Prix Paul Guillaume and exposes at the Gallery Bernheim Jeune. Unfortunately, most of his works created during his stay in Paris will be looted or lost due to the World War II.

In the early 40’s he settles in Florence again, opening a new studio in Borgo San Jacopo. During the allied bombings many of its works will be severely damaged.

At the end of WWII, in 1945, he will continue his painting research, alone and in solitude. In this period he begins to portray acrobats, reminiscence of his youthful period in Maremma where the artist was in close contact with their families and their theatres.

In 1946 he organizes a personal exhibition at the Moos Gallery in Geneva and at the Moser Gallery in Lausanne. The following year holds an exhibition at the Sandri Art Gallery in Venice, hosted by the friend Gianni Vagnetti.

He marries again in 1952 and has two sons. Meanwhile, he joins the collective exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi “Mezzo Secolo di Arte Toscana” and holds another personal exhibition at Galleria L’Obelisco in Rome.

From 1959 to 1973 he portrays several nudes, using only two colors and its shades.

In 1968 holds his last personal Florentine exhibit at Galleria Michelangelo in Palazzo Antinori.

He dies in Florence, on March 14, 1976.

He is buried in Florence, at Cimitero degli Allori.

 

Biography by Susanna Ragionieri in collaboration with the THAYAHT & RAM Archive