ITALIAN artist Aligi Sassu who is considered as one of the pioneers of Italian contemporary art, died on Monday, his 88th birthday, at his home in Pollensa which has been his studio since he moved to the island in 1962. Sassu, who was born in Milan in 1912, but made Majorca his second home, died surrounded by his wife, the opera singer Helanita Olivares and family. The painter, sculpture and ceramist earned an international reputation for his work and during his distinguished career was presented with a number of awards including the Silver Siurell by Ultima Hora, the Bulletin sister paper in 1989. Both Palma and Alcudia proudly exhibit a number of his sculptures and his works have been shown all over the world. In Switzerland there is the Aligi Sassu and Helenita Olivares Foundation and one of his last public appearances was at the opening of an exhibition of his work at the Solleric gallery in 1999. Yesterday his body was taken to Bon Sosec and today the great artist will be cremated at 11am with a funeral mass being held at Palma Cathedral at 7.30 pm. and tomorrow at 8.30 pm at the Mare de Deu del Angles church in Pollensa. His ashes will be scattered in Majorca, Milan and Sardinia.