SALVO (1947-2015)
SALVO (1947-2015)
SALVO (1947-2015)
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SALVO (1947-2015)


SALVO (1947-2015)
signed and dated 'Salvo 85' (lower right)
oil on jute
79 ½ x 45 ¼in. (202 x 115cm.)
Painted in 1985
Galerie Paul Maenz, Cologne.
Galleria Toselli, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004.
Stuttgart, Galerie der Stadt Stuttgart, Salvo, 1994-1995 (illustrated in colour, p. 87).
Milan, Galleria Toselli, Salvo, 2001 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Bergamo, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo, Gabriele Basilico e Salvo. Paesaggio Contemporanea: dialoghi tra fotografia e pittura, 2002, p. 201, no. 9 (illustrated in colour, p. 137).
Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution, 1968-2008, 2008-2010, p. 308 (illustrated in colour, p. 107). This exhibition later travelled to Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Lugano, Museo d'arte della Svizzera Italiana, Boetti / Salvo "Vivere lavorando giocando", 2017, p. 304 (illustrated in colour, p. 230).
Further Details
This work is registered in the Archivio Salvo, Turin, under no. S1985-21 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Archivio Salvo, Turin.

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Lot Essay

Towering two metres tall, Untitled (1985) captures a beguiling scene shielded from the passage of time—one that is accentuated by the Italian artist Salvo’s celebrated saturated palette and elemental forms. Salvo’s paintings emerge more from dreams and memory than reality. Here, in a wash of primaveral sunshine, the warm Mediterranean landscape is populated with ancient Greek ruins: a man-made subject that preoccupied the artist after his travels through Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey. Candy-floss clouds drift through the translucent sky, punctuated by meandering pines and the cusps of sculpted cypresses. Doric columns, radiant undergrowth and tomb-like rocks interrupt our view of a distant blue bay. Relating to his cycle of Rovine (Ruins), one of which Salvo had shown at the 41st Venice Biennale in 1984, the work is an elegant example of the artist’s life-long interest in metaphysics and the search for selfhood in nature. It has been shown in a number of important exhibitions in its lifetime, including Boetti / Salvo: Living, Working, Playing, a 2017 presentation at MASI Lugano that examined Salvo’s practice alongside that of his friend, Alighiero Boetti.

A devoted explorer who spent much of his life travelling and capturing the astonishing beauty of his homeland, Salvo was initially known as a conceptual artist. Born Salvatore Mangione to an indigent family in rural Sicily in 1947, he relocated to industrial Turin as an adolescent and at first supported himself by selling life paintings and copies of Old Masters. The young Salvo eventually emerged as a member of the burgeoning Arte Povera movement in the late 1960s alongside leading figures like Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone and Boetti—the latter of whom he shared a studio with. Salvo’s practice during these formative years was distinctly conceptual and based largely in text and photography. It was not until 1973 that he turned to figurative painting and placed colour at the core of his practice. This drastic change in style—characterised by highly saturated, phantasmagorical landscapes without a human trace—followed the metaphysical avenue of Giorgio de Chirico, whom Salvo deeply admired.

In the present work, Salvo has simplified each element of landscape to the extreme. Architectural structures are reduced to their principal geometric solids; the greenery and clouds are fashioned in stylised, elementary volumes. This singular visual language would persist throughout Salvo’s practice. His distilled pictorial idiom not only shares in the ethereal spirit of de Chirico’s works, but also brings to mind Giorgio Morandi’s meticulous, silent still lifes, which similarly engage in a quest for the essential through objects. As Annelie Pohlen has noted, Salvo ‘neutralises the significance of content; the mannerism of his work—balancing between the great subject and the kitsch idyll that is beyond redemption—is also its message’ (A. Pohlen, ‘Salvo’, Artforum, March 1985 vol 23, no. 7, p. 105). The present work is a thoughtful synthesis of references, aesthetics and subjects from the past, while also establishing its own timeless, boundless painterly quality—an escapist fantasy that manifests the pleasure of painting for painting’s sake.

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