Luciano Fabro (1936-2007)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more TWO WORKS FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION, EUROPE
Luciano Fabro (1936-2007)

Contatto. Tautologia (Contact. Tautology)

Luciano Fabro (1936-2007)
Contatto. Tautologia (Contact. Tautology)
painted iron,, in two parts
overall: 3/8 x 1667/8 x ½in. (1 x 424 x 1.3cm.)
each element: 3/8 x 83½ x ½in. (1 x 212 x 1.3cm.)
Executed in 1967, this work is unique
Galleria Notizie, Turin.
Galleria Ippolito Simonis, Turin.
Galerie Durant - Dessert, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in circa 2000.
Fabro, exh. cat., Ravenna, Loggetta Lombardesca, 1983 (illustrated, pp. 81-82, p. 148, p. 152, pp.157-158).
L. Fabro, Luciano Fabro: Lavori, 1963 - 1986, Turin 1987 (illustrated, p. 59).
Luciano Fabro: Works 1963 - 1986, exh. cat., Edinburgh, The Fruitmarket Gallery, 1987 (illustrated, p. 59).
Luciano Fabro, exh. cat., Basel, Kunstmuseum, 1991 (illustrated, p. 75).
Fabroinopera, exh. cat., Pistoia, Palazzo Fabroni, 1994 (illustrated, p. 158).
J. de Sanna, Luciano Fabro Biografa Eidografa, Udine 1996 (illustrated, unpaged).
Luciano Fabro, exh. cat., Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne Centre George Pompidou, 1996 (detail illustrated, p. 194).
Turin, Galleria Notizie, Avanti, dietro, destra sinistra (Tautologie), 1968 (illustrated, p. 1).
Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Luciano Fabro, 1987, p. 59.
Milan, Galleria De Nieubourg, Luciano Fabro, 1969 (detail illustrated, unpaged).
Lyon-Villeurbanne, Le Nouveau Musée, Luciano Fabro, 1987 (illustrated, p. 59).
Paris, Galerie Durant-Dessert, Luciano Fabro. La naissance de Vènus, 1992 (illustrated).
San Francisco, SFMOMA, Luciano Fabro, 1992, p. 113, no. 53 (illustrated, unpaged).
Toyota, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Arte Povera, 2005.
Paris, Galerie Di Meo, AP Arte Povera, 2010.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Post lot text
This work is accompanied by a certifcate of authenticity signed by the artist.

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Mariolina Bassetti
Mariolina Bassetti

Lot Essay

Contatto. Tautologia (Contact. Tautology) is an extremely rare and important early work by Luciano Fabro, made in 1967 and belonging to the artist’s celebrated series of works known as the ‘Tautologies’. Created between 1967 and 1968, at the time of Fabro’s first involvement with Arte Povera, the Tautologies were a unique and highly important series of works that served as a kind of creative tabula rasa for Fabro, during this critical moment in the history of Italian Art. Fabro himself described the Tautologies as ‘a kind of immunisation cure’, that gave him the freedom to go on and create his later work. Of the Tautologies themselves, he has declared them to be “works about which nothing could be said, nothing could be written.” (Luciano Fabro quoted in Margit Rowell, ‘From James to Bernini, a Pragmatic Sensibility in a Baroque Form’ in Luciano Fabro exh. cat San Francisco, 1992, p. 17)

In 1968, in the catalogue for his exhibition at the Galerie Notizie, where this work was first exhibited, Fabro himself, provided a description of Contatto. Tautologia, describing it functionally as follows: ‘A straight blade of steel, painted the same colour as the room and fixed at the ends to two opposite walls, is cut at its central point middle. The cut makes the two segments of the blade bend slightly.’. (Luciano Fabro’s description of Contatto. Tautologia as published in catalogue for the Galerie Notizie exhibition in Turin, 1968, quoted in Jole de Sanna, Luciano Fabro Biografa Eidografa, Paisian di Prato, 1996)

In its form, therefore, Contatto echoes some of Fabro’s earliest works – in particular, metal sculptures such as Croce or Asta of 1965. These were interactive sculptures in which the artist sought to directly interrelate the work with the space into which it was to be set. Croce and Asta, for example, were both site-specific works - one in the form of a metal cross, the other a single, suspended steel rod – whose dimensions were made specifically to correspond with and emphasize the space and scale of the room in which they were installed. Contatto. Tautologia is a similar work, in this respect, in that it also takes the form of a single metal bar whose dimensions are entirely dependent upon the space around it. But Fabro, in this Tautology, and as in others from the Tautology series, has gone a step further; heightening this mirrored sense of interrelatedness between sculpture and space, by stipulating that the metal bar of Contatto be painted the same colour as the walls of the room in which it is placed. In this way, therefore, the form of the sculpture is determined by the space of the room and its colour by the colour of the room. Sculpture and space have now become tautological expressions of each other and the empty space cut into the metal bar at the centre of the work - the point of near contact - now becomes a vortex around which this tautology can be seen to revolve.

For Fabro, as Germano Celant was among the first to point out, it is in this simple, poetic use of form and material and its tautological expression of itself that the artist demonstrates his belief that sculpture is ultimately only a metaphor or allegory for the practice of making of sculpture. ‘I would like to show the viewer how to read the experience, the things themselves’, Fabro once said, also pointing out, with reference to a work like Contatto that ‘I think of things, not of what i can think of things, this is a tautology’. (Luciano Fabro quoted in Luciano Fabro exh. cat. Tate Gallery, London 1997, p. 12 and Lucano Fabro exh, cat., MADRE, Naples, 2007, p. 233) For Celant, he saw in this use of tautology by Fabro what he called a tool for eliminating ‘superstructures’ (ideas, ideologies) and the idea of art ‘begin[ning] again’ in such a way that it would ‘have awareness of the present and the world’. (Germano Celant, ‘Arte Povera: Notes for a Guerilla Warfare’ Flash Art, No. 5, 1967)

Celant also argued, in this seminal text, Arte Povera: Notes for a Guerilla Warfare, that ‘the difficulty of knowledge, or of taking possession of things, is enormous: conditioning prevents us from seeing a pavement, a corner, or a daily space.” Luciano Fabro, however, through his Tautologies, was proposing ‘the rediscovery of a pavement, a corner, or the axis that unites the floor and ceiling of a room. He’s not worried about satisfying the system, and intends instead to disembowel it.’ (ibid)

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