<span class="chapeau">The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is presenting an exhibition of Italian avant-garde works from the 1960s. The Pinault Collection is contributing <i>Spazio Luce</i>, by Francesco Lo Savio (1935–1963).</span><br><br> <div class="col m-4 auteur pull-left"> <div class="inner"> <div class="white"> <a class="switch">Text</a><br> <b>Luca Massimo Barbero</b><br> <span>Director of the Art History Institute at the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice, co-curator at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection</span> </div> </div> </div><br> <br><br><br><br> <div class="col m-4"><span class="title">Francesco</span><br><br> <span class="alinea"></span><span class="title">Lo Savio</span></div> <div class="col m-10 pull-right align-right"><span class="lieu">Guggenheim<br></span> <span class="lieu">Venise</span><br></div> <div class="clearfix"> <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>The end of a decade and the start of a new one often correspond to periods of creative ferment for avant-garde artists. This is certainly true of the years spanning from 1959 to 1963, during which a new generation emerged in Italy with richly complex works. During these few brief years, a silent revolution occurred, which would decisively shape the 1960s. In Milan at the time, this was focused on the brief but intense period of activity of Azimut/h, a magazine and gallery. But Rome was another particularly rich and nourishing center for artists at the time. In Milan, attention is focused on the influence of Lucio Fontana; in Rome it would be more difficult to identify an equivalent founding father. You could point to Alberto Burri’s extraordinary creativity, or even to Piero Dorazio, an overlooked figure to this day. It is certainly true that Francesco La Savio’s brief and brilliant career encapsulates these complex, contradictory, and prophetic few years, during which Lo Savio was one of the core members of the Roman art world. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Beginning in 1959, Lo Savio’s works take up an informal existentialism that was beginning to go out of fashion at the time and lucidly analyzes the work of art, making it, almost objectively, an autonomous and “problematic” artifact. His critical exploration of the language specific to art brought him close to the avant-gardes of the time. In Lo Savio’s work, the canvas became the site for a dialogue between shape, color, and light. The insubstantial presence of the monochrome fields he presented in his first group shows in 1959 contrasted with the materiality of the work created by his cohort of artists. The thin canvas becomes a screen; its color seems fleeting, unmoored from a physical object. These paintings in synthetic resin, which visibly breathe in the thin weave of the canvas, he titled “Spazio-Luce,” Space-Light. The impressive <i>Spazio Luce</i> from 1960 is part of this series, created for his solo exhibition at the Selecta gallery in Rome that year. In the “Spazio-Luce,” the lingering confrontation between a space of light and the shape of its core creates a feeling of evanescence that can be disconcerting. The subtle changes in color, barely visible, occur slowly but uninterruptedly across the canvas, in a movement that engages the entire surface of the painting and even includes the whole wall, the entire space. In these works on canvas, Lo Savio seeks what he describes as “a pure spatial concept”: that concept is light, its absence, and the way in which it shows the differences, almost imperceptible, in the density of color. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Critics do not often discuss the theme of emptiness in Lo Savio's work. It is emptiness, however, that feeds the shadows surrounding the suspended “Spazio-Luce” works. His stated intention, indeed, is to “heighten the viewer’s awareness of empty space, its intensity as a dynamic moment of light.” But before they can be perceived visually, the vibrations that constitute these works, their “active field,” have to be understood mentally, theoretically, even conceptually. They embody this “dynamic and mental contact” that the artist hoped to achieve by erecting ideal spaces for their exhibition. And yet, the luminous energy and purity of his vision should not be interpreted romantically or even perceptually. Lo Savio was an explorer and a precursor of the rigorous analysis that would soon dominate on both sides of the Atlantic, bringing him close to the lucid “absence” of minimalist art. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>It was in his quality as precursor that he showed works alongside Ad Reinhardt and with representatives of the German artists’ group ZERO, founded by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene; that he was associated to Frank Stella’s method and to American minimalist artists. His “Spazio-Luce” works are a proof, a beginning, and an analysis of the potential of light, of the expansion and limits of color. Each one is made to contend with mobility, as if the work were nothing more than an extraordinary moment in the transitory nature of light; an experience whose conclusion would be to embody a space of total light. Lo Savio would pursue his lucid research for the dynamic of light, creating a dialogue between the idealized shapes of the circle and the square, endowing them in his <i>Articolazioni Totali</i> with a physical reality, in which the work itself generates its surrounding space, creating an autonomous interior and exterior. It is through Lo Savio’s desire to establish the relationship between different dimensions that his work moves to the edges of the visual world and into the realm of utopia, but made him practically invisible to the “myopic critics” of his era. It is also this desire that places him today amongst the great protagonists of the extraordinary “otherness” that characterized art during this brief, but certainly seminal and foundational, period in art history.<br><br> </div>
Francesco LO SAVIO<br /><i>Spazio Luce</i> — 1960 — Synthetic resin on canvas, 170 × 200 cm — Exhibition view « Slip of the Tongue » (Punta della Dogana, 2015)
 

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