Lot 34
  • 34


500,000 - 700,000 GBP
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  • Luciano Fabro
  • Edera (Ivy)
  • lead, ivy and glass
  • 153 by 87 by 8.9 cm. 60 1/4 by 34 1/4 by 3 1/2 in.
  • Executed in 1969.


Sergio Ermini, Ponti Sul Mincio Liliane et Michel Durand-Dessert, Paris

Sotheby’s, Paris, Liliane et Michel Durand-Dessert Collection, 6 October 2005, Lot 18 (consigned by the above)

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Milan, Galleria de Nieubourg, Luciano Fabro, April - May 1969, p. 8, illustrated Ferrara, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Participio presente, February - April 1973, n.p., illustrated

Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Fabro Vademecum, November 1981 - January 1982, n.p., illustrated

Paris, Galerie Liliane et Michel Durand-Dessert, Arte Povera 1965 - 1971, January - March 1987

Nîmes, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Italie hors d'Italie, July - September 1987, p. 91, no. 28, illustrated

Munich, Kunstverein München, Arte Povera 1971 und 20 Jahre danach, April - June 1991, n.p., no. 7, illustrated in colour

Salzburg, Salzburger Festspiele, Utopia: Arte Italiana 1950-1993, July - August 1993, p. 60, no. 26, illustrated in colour

Paris, Galerie Liliane et Michel Durand-Dessert, Arte Povera 1965 - 1972, March - May 1995

Bordeaux, CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, Les années 70: l'art en cause, October 2002 - January 2003, p. 80, illustrated in colour

Grenoble, Musée de Grenoble, L'Art au Futur Antérieur: Liliane et Michel Durand-Dessert, l’engagement d’une galerie, 1975-2004, July - October 2004, n.p., illustrated in colour


Luciano Fabro, Attaccapanni, Turin 1978, p. 73, illustrated Jole de Sanna, Fabro, Ravenna 1983, p. 73, no. 21, illustrated in colour

Exh. Cat., Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Luciano Fabro, 1987, p. 71, illustrated

Jacinto Lageira, ‘Luciano Fabro: le miroir des sens ou quelques tautologies sur l'expérience esthétique’, Artstudio, No. 13, Summer 1989, p. 102, illustrated in colour

Exh. Cat., Osaka, Kodama Gallery, Arte Povera, October - September 1992, p. 47, illustrated

Maïten Bouisset, Arte Povera, Paris 1994, p. 90, illustrated

Exh. Cat., Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Luciano Fabro (Habitat), October 1996 - January 1997, p. 66, illustrated in colour

Ligeia, No. 25-28, October 1998 - June 1999, p. 191, illustrated

Raymond Lachat, L'Art en Italie: 1945-1995, Paris 1999, p. 127, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate, although the lead is slightly cooler in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. The dried ivy is secured between a sheet of lead and glass. There is a superficial layer of dust on the glass, most notably towards the lead fringing. Close inspection reveals a few rub marks, scuffs and spots of abrasions in isolated places to the metal fringes, most notable of which are a few spots of abrasions to the left edge.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1969 and comprising the artist’s archetypal exploration into the physicality of material forms, Edera, or Ivy in English, is quintessential Fabro. An Italian post-war artist associated with the Arte Povera movement, Fabro is known for his radical sculptural installations that encapsulate a diversity of media and explore themes of past and present through a poetic, visual intelligence and intuition. Exhibited widely and extensively referred to in literature on the artist, this piece is undoubtedly one of Fabro's most important works. Indeed, while equal in status to the iconic series of Italie (Italys) and Piedi (Feet), Edera is nonetheless remarkable for its utter uniqueness. Having resided in the collection of the renowned Parisian gallerists Liliane and Michel Durant-Dessert for many years, this piece possesses both outstanding provenance and remarkable historical importance.   Highly influenced by Lucio Fontana’s 1958 exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Fabro moved to Fontana's city and centre of the Italian avante garde, Milan. Here he met such post-war pioneers as Giulio Paolini, Jannis Kounellis and Pino Pascali. Inspired by their radical rejection of traditional artistic mediums, he became involved in the Arte Povera movement of the late 1960s and began to create artworks that combined everyday media with more traditional materials, such as molten glass, marble, and silk. This unique combination of ‘high’ and ‘low’ became a defining feature of his work and explicitly demonstrates Fabro’s desire to enrich the everyday and the mundane rather than to merely replicate or appropriate it. As the artist explained: “I want to do something very complex, but presented in a simple way. Within this simplicity you must be aware of the complexity” (Luciano Fabro cited in: Exh. Cat., London, Marian Goodman Gallery, Luciano Fabro, 2015, online).

In Edera three very different materials come together to form an evocative natural portrait. Encased within in a classical portrait format, a web of intertwining ivy sits between a rectangular sheet of glass and a sheet of bluish-grey lead. The malleable metal has been folded over in front of the glass in short strips to form a frame of undulating metal fringing. Elevating elemental materiality into the realm of high art, Edera purports a philosophical conception of art that examines principles found in nature, mythology, and history to engender beauty out of simplicity. Lead is soft and malleable; when freshly cut, it is bluish-white and naturally tarnishes to a dull grey when exposed to air. The metamorphic quality of this saturnine metal made it the perfect medium for the artist’s ‘material research’. Juxtaposed against a vine of interlacing ivy that over time has dried and become golden brown, Fabro forged a work rich in symbolic meaning. Ivy has long since been valued for more than just its enduring and evergreen qualities. It is endowed with rich mythological and symbolic meaning: both the grapevine and the ivy vine are symbols of Dionysus, the Ancient Greek god of wine and son of Zeus, who is often depicted wearing a crown of ivy. Furthermore, in some versions of the medieval legend of doomed loved – Tristan and Isolde – ivy is heralded for its binding quality. The legend says, that after Tristan and Isolde died, King Mark had them buried in two separate graves in order to keep them apart even in death; however, an ivy vine grew out of each grave and intertwined to form a lasting link. Today ivy is often used at weddings, where it symbolises fidelity. In the present work the dried golden ivy binds Fabro’s contrasting materials to emblematise a meeting between the classical past and ubiquitous materiality. Reaching a perfect equilibrium between the sensuality of texture and the balance of composition, Edera demonstrates the absolute height of Fabro’s narrative and aesthetic talents.

Having gained substantial international recognition during his lifetime, the artist’s first major retrospective since his death in 2014 opened at the Reina Sofia in Madrid. The following year his work was presented in a large solo exhibition at the Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. Previously Fabro’s works had been shown in numerous important solo exhibitions across the globe, including the Folkwang Museum in 1981, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam in 1981-1982, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1992, the Pompidou Centre in 1996-1997, and Tate Gallery, London in 1997.