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Collections> Browse Luciano Fabro

Luciano Fabro
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1 sculpture, 1 multiple, 1 book

Wikipedia About Luciano Fabro

Luciano Fabro (November 20, 1936 - June 22, 2007) was an Italian artist associated with the Arte Povera movement. Full Wikipedia Article

essay Luciano Fabro, Walker Art Center Collections, 2005

Among those artists affiliated with the concept of “Arte Povera,” Luciano Fabro is the only one attracted to that movement’s forbidden material, the one most associated with high Renaissance sculpture—marble. While his early work of environmental measuring devices in steel and copper tubing and a more discursive body of work known collectively as Tautologies possessed a Euclidian spareness and logic, his growing vocabulary of sculpture gradually expanded to include materials like mirrors, silk, blown glass, and porphyry. His most glamorous body of work, Piede (Foot) (1968–1971) is a campaign of gigantic, gorgeously grotesque individual avian feet replete with knotted talons made from glass, copper, bronze, aluminum, brass, and marble. Each foot climbs to the ceiling in a sleeve of fabulously constructed silk. Clearly in violation of the somewhat puritanical sumptuary laws of Arte Povera, Fabro sought to ward off criticism by crafting a declaration (published in the periodical Flash Art) to coincide with the first exhibition of the Piede at the Venice Biennale of 1972. In it, he clarified that the work is an homage to Italian craftspeople whose myriad skills were called upon to produce his Mannerist bestiary.

Between 1968 and 1973, Fabro worked on what has arguably become his best-known, least-seen work, Lo Spirato (The Dead). First modeled in clay and later carved from an exquisite, richly veined slab of gray marble, Lo Spirato portrays a male body lying on a thin mattress covered by a sheet. The linen clings in folds to the feet, calves, thighs, crotch, arms. Just as it crests at the rib cage, it is as if the entire sculpture exhales and the sheet caves into the mattress where the head has already disappeared. It is the negative of Andrea Mantegna’s extraordinary The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (circa 1490), his foreshortened painting in the Brera Museum, Milan. While The Lamentation is an affirmation of a fallen hero, Lo Spirato is the presentation of an existential dilemma. The inscriptions on the sculpture’s base address Fabro’s authorial dilemma: “From the Full to the Empty without any solution of continuity” and “I represent the obstruction of the object in the vanity of ideology.” Ironically, because of a hairline fracture, Lo Spirato remains confined in Fabro’s studio rather than risk its destruction through a move to another location.

It is hard to summarize the riot of ideas that animate Fabro’s work, in which politics, philosophy, geometry, and mythology all claim preeminence. His armada of sculptures in the shape of Italy analyzes his homeland with wit, bravado, and always a grudging empathy. Other sculptures stretch the properties and hierarchies of the materials he selects to work with. Sisyphus (1994), a later, more playful work in the Walker Art Center’s collection, combines the skills of etching, stone-carving, gold inlay, and pizza-making. A rolling pin of marble (embedded with a constellation of gold stars) is incised with his nude self-portrait and rolled over a bed of flour to create the image of the artist pushing the object forward and away, forever trapped in an activity that is ceaseless and thanklessly metaphoric. The myth of Sisyphus is one that adapts without alteration to a modern context, and Fabro reiterates its potency with wit and multidisciplinary mastery.

    Flood, Richard. “Luciano Fabro.” In Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole: Walker Art Center Collections, edited by Joan Rothfuss and Elizabeth Carpenter. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 2005.

    © 2005 Walker Art Center