Lot 33
  • 33


250,000 - 350,000 GBP
309,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Francesco Lo Savio
  • Untitled
  • iron
  • 26 x 49 x 7 inches


Emilio Villa, Rome

Plinio de Martiis, Rome

Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne

Sotheby’s, London, 24 October 2005, Lot 19

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve, Accrochage, Künstler der Galerie, 2001

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1959, Untitled is an early and foundational example of Francesco Lo Savio’s preeminent investigation into the interaction between light and form in space. Born in Rome in 1935, Lo Savio’s production spans only a very short period between the years 1959 and 1963; his premature death at the age of 28 has meant that his work has remained relatively obscure. Nonetheless, recent revaluation of his radical oeuvre – a body of work that can be divided into three important pictorial cycles: the ‘Space-Light’, the ‘Filters’, and the ‘Metalli’ – has put paid to such obscurity, and today he is considered an important and far-sighted precursor to American Minimalism and the Arte Povera movement of the late 1960s.

Lo Savio began his professional career as a student of contemporary architecture before turning his attention to the plastic arts. By the late 1950s, he had initiated a ground-breaking and radical body of work in which the portent of light and surface was pitted against three-dimensional form. Influenced by the indomitable Spatialism of Lucio Fontana and deeply inspired by modernist architectural schools, such as the Bauhaus and De Stijl, his art embodies a celebration of light, form and space. Indeed, way ahead of his time, Lo Savio confronted the tension between the two-dimensional painted surface and the three-dimensional sculptural object using industrial materials and elemental forms.

The present work forms part of the artist’s acclaimed Metalli series. For these works, Lo Savio manipulated painted sheets of industrial iron to produce wall-mounted angulations. Untitled is a curved iteration of this visual inquiry as its rounded form arches and distends gracefully away from the wall. Existing somewhere between sculpture and painting, this work imparts a subtle environmental incursion that invites the viewer into a physical engagement with its form. As in the present work, Lo Savio typically painted the Metalli in monochrome black: an absorptive pigment conducive of understated but effective modulations in light and shadow across the Metalli’s curved or angular surfaces.

According to Lo Savio, the world is structured by light. In his painting/sculpture, a dynamic dimension is created when the viewer perceives the aesthetic surface of his work within alternating light conditions. The varying perception of each viewer becomes a fundamental element of Lo Savio’s work, with its effect alternating depending on placement and lighting. Untitled thus privileges the relationship between the static object-quality of the artwork and the dynamic role of the viewer. Anticipating the three-dimensional canvases of Enrico Catellani and Agosto Bonalumi, and presaging the industrial stacks of Donald Judd and the industrial forms of Richard Serra, Lo Savio’s brief but intense career yielded a prescient aesthetic dialogue in which the coexistence of material form and immaterial light put forth a new social dimension for the work of art.