Biography

Salvo (Leonforte, Enna, 1947 – Turin, 2015)

 

Salvo (real name Salvatore Mangione) was born in Leonforte, in the province of Enna in 1947.

In 1956 he and his family move from Catania to Turin, which will always remain his adoptive

city.

In the early 1960s he begins painting and supports himself by selling low-priced portraits,

landscapes and copies of Rembrandt and Van Gogh. In 1963 he participates in the 121st

Esposizione della Società Promotrice delle Belle Arti with a drawing after Leonardo.

 

1968-1972

Between September and December 1968, the artist is in Paris, swept off his feet by the

cultural climate of the student protests. After returning to Turin, he begins spending time

with the artists involved in the Arte Povera movement, whose point of reference is the

gallery owned by Gian Enzo Sperone. He meets Boetti; they become friends and share a

studio until 1971. He also meets Mario and Marisa Merz, Paolini, Penone, Pistoletto, Zorio,

as well as the critics Renato Barilli, Germano Celant, and Achille Bonito Oliva.

In 1969 he gets involved with the American Conceptual artists Joseph Kosuth, Robert

Barry, and Sol LeWitt. In the summer he embarks on his first long journey to Afghanistan,

to be followed by others. He begins making works that already clearly show up the

themes—the search for the Self, narcissistic self-satisfaction, the relationship with the

past and with the history of culture—that will become an essential part of his later research.

These include the photograph Autoritratto come Raffaello and the12 autoritratti

series where he mounts his own face on images taken from newspapers, shown at the

Sperone Gallery in 1970 for his first solo show.

In parallel with his photographic works, Salvo makes marble panels on which he carves

words or sentences, such as Idiota, Respirare il padre, Io sono il migliore. Although the works

are developed within the context of the Arte Povera movement, their monumental and archaicizing

connotations reveal their unique nature and foreshadow the artist’s future research.

Salvo è vivo is made in 1970, and it is now exhibited at the Australian National Gallery

in Canberra and at the Neues Museum in Weimar. The following year he makes 40 nomi, a

list of illustrious names that go from Aristotle to Salvo. He continues to work on his series of

marble plaques throughout 1972, with inscriptions from a variety of sources, such as an Assyrian

text inIl lamento di Assurbanipal or one of Aesop’s fables for La tartaruga e l’aquila.

In 1971 he begins making Tricolore, surfaces on which he writes “Salvo” in red, white,

and green or in neon lettering, as well as copies of novels he personally transcribes where

he uses the same process of substituting self-portraits by inserting his name in lieu of

that of the main character; a case in point is Salvo nel paese delle meraviglie (after Carroll)

and L’isola del tesoro (after Stevenson).

Over the course of the year he meets Cristina, his lifetime partner.

Robert Barry introduces him to Paul Maenz. Thus begins Salvo’s long friendship and work relationship

with the German art dealer, who has a solo show of the artist’s work in his Cologne

gallery in June, preceded by the artist’s Paris debut at the Galerie Yvon Lambert in March.

In June 1972 he meets John Weber, and his last exhibition of Conceptual works is planned

to be held in the New York gallery the following January. That same year Salvo takes part

in Documenta 5 in Kassel.

 

1973-1979

Salvo makes a crucial decision in 1973 when he goes back to painting, which he will never

again abandon.

A return to traditional techniques had already been visible in several Autoritratti benedicenti

drawn between 1968 and 1969. With the intention of revisiting art history Salvo

proceeds to make his works known as d’après. Citing an old master painting does not

necessarily mean copying it tout court, but rather doing it over in a simplified key, where

the artist at times adds images of himself according to the process of the self-portrait.

These works, inspired by such great fifteenth-century masters as Cosmè Tura and Raphael,

are shown in numerous exhibitions.

The following year “Projekt ’74” opens in Cologne: Salvo asks that his works not be shown

at the Kunsthalle, the seat of the exhibition, but in a room at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum,

where San Martino e il povero, dated to 1973 (now at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in

Turin), is placed next to the masterpieces of one painter for each century, for example,

Simone Martini, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Rembrandt, and Cézanne.

Also in 1974 Salvo takes part in the group show “La ripetizione differente” curated by

Renato Barilli and held at the Studio Marconi in Milan. In December he shows a single

work, the Trionfo di San Giorgio (da Carpaccio), over seven metres in size, at the Toselli

Gallery; the work is also shown at the 1976 Venice Biennale.

He paints his first “Italie” and “Sicilie”. These consist of clearly recognizable geographic

maps bearing the names of famous philosophers, painters, writers followed by Salvo’s

own name, all of which are neatly marked on the surface.

In 1976 there is a change in his research. He develops a series of landscapes in which he

uses bright colours to depict horsemen amidst architectural ruins and visions of classical

columns, viewed at different times of the day or night.

He meets Giuliano Briganti and Luisa Laureati, and Luciano Pistoi, the art dealer with

whom he will have a close relationship for many years.

In 1977 his daughter Norma is born, and for the first time ever a museum hosts a retrospective

of his work. Curated by Zdenek Felix for the Museum Folkwang of Essen, this

major exhibition then travels to the Kunstverein in Mannheim.

Also in 1977 he finishes his Giganti fulminati da Giove, one of the largest of his works

made during his mythological period. He has several solo shows, including an exhibition

on the “Capriccio” at the Stein Gallery in Turin, later mounted at both the Fran.oise Lambert

and the Pero Gallery, in Milan, and the Massimo Minini in Brescia, and he also participates

in several group shows, including one at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Bologna

and another one at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York.

 

1980-1999

Between late 1979 and 1980 Salvo paints a series of landscapes with country homes,

churches, and monuments such as San Giovanni degli Eremiti in Palermo and the Tower

of Pisa; appearing for the first time are trees inspired by Giotto and vegetation.

Between 1982 and 1983 he gains further acclaim in Europe. After the major retrospective

organized by Massimo Minini at the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst in Ghent, the following

year his most significant works post-1973 are shown at the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne,

and later at the Nouveau Musée di Villeurbanne, near Lyon.

It is the start of his relationship with the writers Giuseppe Pontiggia and Leonardo Sciascia,

who will dedicate some of their writings to him.

In the summer of 1984 Maurizio Calvesi invites Salvo to “Arte allo specchio” at the 41st

Venice Biennale: he shows six of his works, including San Martino e il povero, Il bar, made

in 1981, and a painting from the cycle Rovine dated to 1984. Upon returning from a long

trip to Greece, Yugoslavia, and Turkey, he paints mishram, the typical Muslim graves he

had visited in Sarajevo. This theme, introduced by Franco Toselli, will be followed by Ottomanie

(a neologism coined by Salvo), variants of the previous landscapes featuring

minarets portrayed to reveal the essentiality of their architecture.

In 1986 the treatise Della Pittura. Imitazione di Wittgenstein is published; it consists of 238

short paragraphs in which Salvo gathers his thoughts on painting according to the method

of the axiomatic proposition and the rhetorical question. The volume is published in

Italian, English, German, and Spanish.

He meets Daniele Pescali, who will be his main art dealer from 1987 to 1995.

In 1988 he holds two institutional exhibitions, at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in

Rotterdam, and at the Musée d’Art Contemporain in N.mes.

He paints works inspired by the paintings of Pieter Jansz Saenredam; Interni con funzioni

straordinarieare shown at the In Arco Gallery in Turin in 1991.

In 1992 Renato Barilli is the curator of the artist’s solo show “Archeologie del futuro”

hosted by the Galleria dello Scudo in Verona; the catalogue includes essays by Giuseppe

Pontiggia, Paul Maenz, and Luigi Meneghelli.

In the 1990s Salvo makes several series of paintings devoted to some of the places he has

visited, including Oman, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Tibet, Nepal, Ethiopia, as well

as much of Europe, in particular France, Germany, and Norway.

From 1995 onwards Salvo begins spending several months a year in the gulf of Policastro

and the Po Valley, near Monviso, places that inspire many of his works.

In those years he meets and spends time with the writer Nico Orengo, for whom he illustrates

the book Cucina crudele in 2003.

In 1998 he has a retrospective exhibition at Villa delle Rose, the seat of the Galleria d’Arte

Moderna in Bologna, curated by Renato Barilli and Danilo Eccher.

 

2000-2015

In the 2000s other trips inspire the artist’s painting, especially ones to China, Thailand,

Egypt, and Iceland.

He has several solo shows, including ones at Zonca & Zonca in Milan, Raffaelli in Trento,

and Mazzoleni in Turin, and in public spaces like Palazzina Azzurra in S. Benedetto del

Tronto and Trevi Flash Art Museum (curator Luca Beatrice), and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna

e Contemporanea in Bergamo, for a two-man show with Gabriele Basilico, curator

Giacinto Di Pietrantonio.

During these years his painting embraces the subject of the lowlands, and he introduces

a new perspective in his landscapes.

Turin, his adoptive city, devotes a major retrospective to his work at the Galleria d’Arte

Moderna e Contemporanea, curator Pier Giovanni Castagnoli, in 2007.

Salvo spends a great deal of time in Costigliole d’Asti, located between the Langhe and

Monferrato, whose hillside landscapes appear in his last works.

In 2013 he begins working with the Mehdi Chouakri Gallery in Berlin, where a solo show

of his work is held in 2014.

That same year, in addition to painting his favourite subjects like landscapes and still lifes,

he goes back to some of the subjects he had abandoned over three decades before, but

in a new key; he makes a large-scale Italia, a Siciliaand a Bar, which he presents in March

2015 on the occasion of his solo show at the Mazzoli Gallery in Modena. He died on 12

September 2015 in Turin.

 

2015-2020

In 2016 the Mehdi Chouakri gallery organized the exhibition Salvo è vivo – an homage, with works by Haris Epaminonda, Douglas Gordon & Morgan Tschiember, Jonathan Monk, Claudia & Julia Müller, Bernd Ribbeck, Francesco Vezzoli. In the same year the Archivio Salvo was founded in Turin, which organized an exhibition of works by Jonathan Monk dedicated to Salvo. In 2017 a double solo show of Salvo and Alighiero Boetti was organized at Masi in Lugano, curated by Bettina Della Casa, and the following year the exhibition L’Almanachat the Consortium in Dijon hosted a room of works by Salvo. Two more personal exhibitions follow: in 2019 at the Norma Mangione gallery, Turin and in 2020 at the Gladstone gallery, New York.

 

 

PUBLIC AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS

Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy
Collezione Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bologna, Italy
Collezione La Gaia, Busca, Cuneo, Italy
Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy
FER Collection, Ulm, Germany
GAM Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Italy
Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Weimar, Germany
MART Museo d’arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Rovereto, Italy
MAMbo Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA
Museo del Novecento, Milan, Italy
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
National Gallery of Australia, Parkes, Australia
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA

12 autoritratti, 1969, fotografia, 48 x 38 cm

12 autoritratti, 1969, slides, 48 x 38 cm, courtesy Paul Maenz Archive, Berlin

Autoritratto (come Raffaello), 1970, fotografia su alluminio, 65 x 49 cm

Autoritratto (come Raffaello), 1970, photography, 20×16,5 cm, courtesy Archivio Salvo, Turin

saliscendendo, 1972, fotografia, 100x130 cm

Saliscendendo, 1972, photography, 98×72 cm, courtesy Gerd De Vries Collection, Berlin

San Martino e il Povero, 1974

San Martino e il Povero, 1974, oil on paper applied on canvas, 286×189 cm, courtesy GAM Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin

Arance, 1981, oil on canvas, 18×23,7 cm, courtesy Archivio Salvo, Turin