Pietro Consagra

Ferro Trasparente Turchese, 1966

painted iron

60 × 4 × 43 cm

Edition size: 4

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Pietro Consagra’s “Ferro Trasparente Turchese” (1966) is part of his “Ferri Transparenti” series. The term “ferro transparente” translates to “transparent iron.” The artist named it to describe the diaphanous effect of the overlapping iron sheets being loosely welded with each other to create voids, creating a sense of translucency.

“Ferro Trasparente Turchese” is representative of Consagra’s style in that he rejects the canonical three-dimensionality of sculpture. Instead, he challenges the common perception of the medium through the flatness of his models, blurring the lines between full sculpture, relief and painting.

The artwork’s flatness, coupled with turquoise colour, and its stem and head gives it a plant-like quality, which is emphasised when exhibited with others of this series.

At the time prior to “Ferri Transparenti” series, in the 1960s, Consagra had already become a well established artist in Italy and the United States. He experimented with burnt wood before transitioning to iron, which he painted with nitro varnish. His choice of colours, within this series is representative of the influence the Pop scene of the postwar period had on his work; he predominately used green, pink, red, fuchsia, purple and turquoise.

the artist

Pietro Consagra (b.1920-d.2005) was one of Italy’s most renowned post-war sculptors whose work rejected the tradition of three-dimensional sculpture to embrace a more direct mode of interaction between art and audience.

Born in Mazara del Vallo in Trapani (Sicily), he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Palermo before founding the ‘Forma I’ group in 1947 in Rome, a formalist and Marxist collective which rejected the popular metaphysical romanticism and distortion of the time. Exhibiting at various galleries in Italy and taking part in the Venice Biennale eleven times between 1950 and 1993, Consagra enjoyed international acclaim, including exhibitions at the Peggy Guggenheim collection, Venice, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Gallery in London.

Primarily interested in liberating sculpture from the burdens of any historical legacy, Pietro Consagra worked in bronze and iron to create sculptures that were flattened and almost two-dimensional. In this way, he disposed of a normative authoritarian centre in favour of a frontal outlook that established a far more open ‘tete-a-tete’ between work and viewer. For Consagra, “placement became meaning”; his works used abstraction to expose meaning that would otherwise never have been revealed. From 1952, he established the ‘Colloqui’ series, a collection of bronze sculptures that were defined by the plasticity of their flattened surface: overlapping planes, gaps and varying texture destabilised any semblance of a ‘conventional’ viewpoint.

In the sixties, colour became an essential element of Pietro Consagra's sculpture. His ‘Transparent Irons’ series saw monochrome works of pink, violet, blue and crimson take on the issues of a frontal perspective by becoming mobile, rotating at the touch of a hand. Ultimately, the curving fragments and defiant colours of Consagra’s works were the most vital part of his rejection of traditional sculptural canons. In the words of the artist: “Art is the only way to keep oneself suspicious, susceptible, nervous, intolerant, evasive, enthusiastic, balanced, unbalanced, attentive, aggressive, lazy, imaginative, libidinous, free, ungraspable.” The tension that arises from these contradictions is what makes Pietro Consagra's works retain a psychological power for the audience to engage with.


In the words of the artist:Art is the only way to keep oneself suspicious, susceptible, nervous, intolerant, evasive, enthusiastic, balanced, unbalanced, attentive, aggressive, lazy, imaginative, libidinous, free, ungraspable.

Pietro Consagra
on Artuner

Part of the

June 29th, 2017 until
September 16th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER