Lot 45
  • 45

LUCIANO FABRO | Alluminio e seta naturale (Piede)

650,000 - 850,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Luciano Fabro
  • Alluminio e seta naturale (Piede)
  • aluminium and Indian silk
  • base: 80 by 170 by 170 cm. 31 1/2 by 67 by 67 in.
  • silk: 25 cm. 9 7/8 in. (diameter); maximum height: 370 cm. 145 5/8 in.
  • Executed in 1970-71.


Galleria Arte Borgogna, Milan Acquired from the above by the present owner in the early 1970s


Milan, Galleria Arte Borgogna, Fabro, March - April 1971, n.p., illustrated
Paris, Parc Floral de Paris, Bois de Vincennes, 7e Biennale de Paris, September - November 1971, n.p., illustrated (installation views)
Rome, Palazzo Taverna, Informazioni sulla presenza italiana, November - December 1971, n.p., illustrated (installation view)
Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Anni ‘70, Arte a Roma, December 2013 - March 2014, p. 192, no. 98, illustrated in colour (installation view); and no. 99, illustrated in colour
Milan, Galleria Christian Stein, Luciano Fabro, October 2015 - April 2016, pp. 64-65, 68-69, 72 and 162, illustrated in colour (installation view)
Vaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, From the Collection, Rendez-vous du Dimanche, February - June 2018


Anon., ‘Fabro’, Flash Art, Milan, May 1971, No. 24, p. 5, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Anon., ‘A Parigi, La Biennale dei Bambini (Idioti)’, Flash Art, Milan, October - November 1971, No. 27, p. 3, illustrated (installation view)
Luciano Fabro, Attaccapanni, Turin 1978, pp. 74-75, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Exh. Cat., Essen, Museum Folkwang Essen; Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Luciano Fabro, March 1981 - January 1982, pp. 78-79, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Exh. Cat., Edinburgh, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Luciano Fabro. Works 1963-1986, January - February 1987, pp. 86-87, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Anon., Fabro. Entretiens - Travaux 1963-1986, Paris 1987, pp. 86-87, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Anon., Luciano Fabro: Lavori 1963 - 1986, Turin 1987, pp. 86-87, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Exh. Cat., Rivoli, Castello di Rivoli, Luciano Fabro, June - September 1989, p. 62, no. 31, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Exh. Cat., Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luciano Fabro. Die Zeit. Werke 1963-1991, September - December 1991, pp. 102-03, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Jole de Sanna, Luciano Fabro. Biografia, Udine 1996, p. 59, no. 1, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)
Exh. Cat., Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Luciano Fabro, October 1996 - January 1997, pp. 217-18, illustrated (installation views)
Exh. Cat., London, Tate Gallery, Luciano Fabro, February - June 1997, p. 16, illustrated (in installation at Galleria Borgogna, Milan, 1971)


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate although the tonality of the blue silk tends more towards teal in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Close inspection of the base reveals a few minor scratches and abrasions in places. There is also a minor indentation to one of the furthest most parts of the foot and an historic loss to another which is also potentially original to the work's fabrication. Further close inspection of the lower centre of the foot reveals a few spots of minor discolouration which appear to be original. Close inspection of the silk reveals a few thread pulls in places which is inherent to the fabrication of the silk. Please note that the maximum height of the silk is 370 cm.
"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

In Luciano Fabro’s 1970-71 sculpture Alluminio e seta naturale (Piede), a towering, slender pillar shrouded in soft, cobalt-blue silk is poised improbably atop a large and claw-like aluminium base. Striking in its visual juxtaposition, the work forms part of the celebrated series of Piedi (Feet) that the Italian artist created between 1968 and 1971. First exhibited alongside the present work at the Galleria Arte Borgogna in Milan in 1971, these enigmatic sculptures share the same structural composition, yet vary in their physical materiality, with others in the grouping sporting tripod bases made of marble or bronze, and, in a subsequent series of ten from 1972, glass. Like some kind of architectural-animal hybrid dreamt up in the depths of the subconscious, Fabro’s Piedi sculptures simultaneously resemble mysterious mythical creatures with stretched and sinewy talons, and elegant fluted columns that, reaching the heights of the ceiling, hark back to Greek and Roman antiquity. Hovering ambiguously between the realms of figuration and abstraction, these silk draped poles rise up towards the sky, seemingly morphing from architectural façades or gargantuan stockinged legs into the purely nonsensical. Working in a post-war world, which strove to banish the trauma and destruction of World War II firmly to the past, Fabro sought to redefine the limits of sculpture in an embrace of this modern new age. In shifting the focus of representation from 'reality' to materiality, the Piedi become a celebration of the very physicality of sculpture itself: “it is plasticity that determines the revelation that is called sculpture” the artist explained; “Revelation is like being introduced into the mystery of the image through the materials: the innate strength of all things physical that is found in their material forms” (Luciano Fabro cited in: Exh. Cat., London, Tate Gallery, Luciano Fabro, 1997, p. 15). One of the proponents of the Italian Arte Povera movement, Fabro set out with his contemporaries to challenge pre-existing perceptions of so-called high art. Translating literally to ‘Poor Art’, the term Arte Povera was coined in 1967 by Germano Celant to refer to the adoption of commonplace and everyday materials by artists such as Fabro, Alighieri Boetti, Pino Pascali and Michelangelo Pistoletto, in a bid to unsettle the traditional aesthetic of oil painting and marble sculpture. In the present work, Fabro further subverts the conventions of traditional art by deliberately obscuring the relationship between sculpture and plinth: whilst the great statues of antiquity rest imposingly upon their pedestals, Fabro’s aluminium, bird-like foot in Piede functions as both pedestal and crux of the work itself. Indeed, the etymology of the word ‘pedestal’, or ‘piedistallo’ in Italian, is ‘piede’, or foot. Deeply inspired by the ground-breaking work of artists such as Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein, Fabro paved the way for a bold, new approach to sculpture: “I want to do something very complex, but presented in a simple way,” Fabro declared of his stylistic ambitions. “Within this simplicity you must be aware of the complexity. This is what Arte Povera is about” (Luciano Fabro cited in: Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, Luciano Fabro, Press Release, May 2015). Alluding, with an almost lyrical humour, to the overbearing shadow of ancient sculpture, Piede seems to step defiantly into the present day, as if capturing and exalting the spirit of its contemporary moment.    

Born in Turin, Italy, in 1936, Fabro moved to Milan in his early twenties to pursue his artistic career, after becoming enraptured by Fontana’s radical Spatialist concepts and perforated canvases at the 1958 Venice Biennial. He remained there until his death in 2007, living and working at the heart of the Italian avant-garde, alongside pivotal post-war artists including Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni. His fascination with Italian culture, from its rich and weighty history to its grand mythological legacy, is implicated and integrated within the fabric of his work. As artist and writer Martin Holman has written, “Fabro’s approach is not literary but philosophical and sensual. The essence of his work lies in the paradox of invoking the richness of myth and history with the everyday material... instead of precious stone or metal. This tension vies with the settled dignity of form. The aesthetic conundrum of beauty and value lies at the heart of our encounter..." (Martin Holman, ‘Art is Always Art: The Academia Opens its Doors to Modern Art,’ The Florentine, 7 June 2012, online). In Piede, this poignant blending of history and myth, and ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, reaches majestic heights.

This work is registered in the Archivio Luciano e Carla Fabro, Milan, under the number a.a_L_874 and is accompanied by a certificate of registration.