Pietro Consagra

Giardino Viola, 1966

painted iron

45.3 × 0.2 × 41 cm

Edition size: 3

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In ‘Giardino Viola’ from his ‘Ferri Trasparenti’ series, Pietro Consagra favours a bi-frontal perspective, characteristic of the artist’s style. This consisted in doubling a single point of view by rejecting a three-dimensional approach, traditionally favoured by Consagra’s predecessors.

As a founding member of the Italian Forma 1 art group, Consagra advocated a move toward abstraction as a means to realise the movement’s formal and Marxist reading of artistic practices. The principles of this movement are strikingly present in Consagra’s work on exhibition.

In contrast to his monumental exercises in sculpting, such as the highway-stretching work ‘Porta del Belice’ in Gibellina, Sicily, the ‘Ferri Trasparenti’ series articulates Consagra’s scaled down virtuosity in brilliant colour. In ‘Giardino Viola’ Consagra privileges micro-proportions to intensify his method, Consagra’s sculpture encapsulates his artistic outlook through spiral vectors and cordyceps jagged shapes.

Made during a period of introspection for the artist, and a period in which Pop Art had reached the acme of its popularity, Consagra’s self questioning are realised in an abstractionism inherent to the artist’s unique vision and contribution to sculpting.

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

November 3rd, 2016 until
November 10th, 2016
Curated by Eugenio Re Rebaudengo