Luciano Fabro in Milan, 1998, copyright by Mario Gorni
Keeping up the interest in the italian vague of Arte Povera, I would like to talk today about Luciano Fabro sculptor, conceptual artist and writer dead in June 2007.
Fabro was born in Turin, in the Piedmont region, close to France, then moved to Udine after his father’s death, in the Friuli, close to Croatia.
He was influenced by artists such as Yves Klein, and Lucio Fontana; he was also close to artists such as Piero Manzoni (about whom I already talked on thode virtual pages), and Enrico Castellani. In 1958 he saw Lucio Fontana's work at La Biennale di Venezia, and moved to Milan, where the art context was flourishing. Since that year, Fabro settled down in Milan till his end, after a heart attack.
Fabro's best known works were sculptural reliefs of Italy made out of glass, steel, bronze, gold and even soft leather. The signature unorthodox, 'poor' materials in his works include steel tubes, cloth, newspapers, and wax; the artist, however, often used also traditional and expensive art materials such as gold, marble, and bronze.
La doppia faccia del cielo - The double face of the sky - (1986) by Luciano Fabro, courtesy of the net, free copyright.
One of Fabro's first pieces was called Tubo da mettere tra i fiori (Tube to place among flowers), 1963. It was a site-specific installation designed for a Milanese garden, even if it was never displayed there; it was made of telescopic steel tubes. He made several works that deal with steel tubes in dialogue with basic physical laws of nature. In 1965 he had his first solo show, at the Galleria Vismara, in Milan, where he combined mirror pieces with spatial lines.
Around 1966, he began to make performative works such as Indumenti: posaseni, calzari, bandoliera (Garments: bra, boots, cross-belt), 1966; Allestimento Teatrale (Cube di specchi) Theatrical Staging (Cube of Mirrors), 1967-1975; and Pavimento/Tautologia (Floor/ Tautology), 1967.
In 1967, Fabro had a group show called Arte Povera e In Spazio, which was a show in Genoa featuring artists such as Giulio Paolini, Pino Pascali, and Jannis Kounellis. There Fabro began to expand his response to unorthodox materials such as marbles and silks. Beginning in 1968, he produced a series of works that dealt with Italy, which included Italia Rovesciata (Overturned Italy), 1968. This work was inspired by a geographical shape of the country or the familiar form of Italy.
... My 'Italys' are bound to iconography with a very slender thread, which is the case because the image of 'Italy' is an image that is inferred, a graphic image. This is the reason for choosing a refraction of the form which could tend towards the infinite. Italy exist as an image which prompts someone's recognition, as an image for someone who in some way feels connected to it and has something to do with the symbol which is its moral reduction: the reduction to a graphic form".