Renato Guttuso, who painted monumental paintings of historic and current subjects, became a leading figure in Italian Socialist Realism. He was also an illustrator, scenic designer, critic, writer, and politician. He abandoned his law studies in the early 1930s to become an artist in Rome. Because of military service (1935–1937) he temporarily relocated to Milan, where he came in contact with such artists and intellectuals as Renato Birolli (1905–1959), Giacomo Manzù (1908–1991), and Lucio Fontana (1899–1968), who shaped his artistic and political attitude. In 1937 Guttuso finally settled in Rome, where he executed his first large-scale realist composition commenting on contemporary Italian life, Volo da Etna (Flight from Etna; 1937–38), which won the Bergamo award in 1938. That year he also had his first solo show at the Galleria Cometa. Guttuso joined the Italian Communist Party in 1940 and completed his masterpiece, Crocifissione (Crucifixion), in the following year. When he was forced to leave Rome during World War II in 1943, he committed himself to the antifascist resistance movement. After the war he co-founded the Fronte Nuevo delle Arti (New Arts Front). In the second half of the 1940s Guttuso traveled to Paris and met Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), with whom he shared a lifelong friendship.