Gino Boccasile

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Poster by Gino Boccasile – (1950)

Gino Boccasile (14 July 1901 – 10 May 1952) was an Italian illustrator.

Born in Bari, Boccasile was the son of a perfumer. Early in his youth he lost his left eye, when a drop of quicklime fell into it while he drank from a fountain. Nonetheless, he showed a precocious aptitude for design and completed studies at the fine art school of his home town.

After the death of his father in 1925, he moved to Milan. Despite some initial difficulties, he eventually gained a post at the Mauzan-Morzenti Agency. Over the next few years he produced posters, illustrated fashion magazines and gained fame for his sensuous renderings of the female form.

Following the lead of fellow poster artist Achille Mauzan, Boccasile went to Buenos Aires, where he met his future spouse Alma Corsi. In 1932 he moved to Paris, where an issue of “Paris Tabou” was dedicated to his work. He also participated in the Salon des Indépendants, that same year. Shortly after returning to Milan, he opened a publicity agency called ACTA, in Galleria del Corso, with his friend Franco Aloi. He illustrated for the Italian periodicals "La Donna" (1932), "Dea" and "La Lettura" (1934), "Bertoldo" (1936), "Il Milione" (1938), "L'Illustrazione del Medico" (1939), "Ecco", "Settebello" and "Il Dramma" (1939) and designed many book covers for publishers Mondadori and Rizzoli'.

A supporter of Benito Mussolini, Boccasile produced propaganda material for his government, including several racist and anti-semitic posters.
As the tide of war turned against Fascism he became more involved in it, becoming a supporter of the German puppet state, RSI, established by Mussolini in Northern and Central Italy after his liberation from the Gran Sasso exile. Boccasile enlisted in the Italian SS Division, drawing their recruitment posters and illustrating propaganda material.

After the war he was imprisoned and tried for collaborating with the fascists. Though acquitted, he remained an outcast. He could not find work for several years as his notoriety was feared by prospective employers.

He supported himself briefly by doing pornographic sketches for English and French publishers, and by 1946, after changing his style, Boccasile was back at work. He set up his own agency in Milan where he created memorable posters for Paglieri cosmetics, Chlorodont toothpaste, Iperchina liquors and Zenith footwear.

He died in Milan, from bronchitis and pleurisy, in 1952.