Born in Rome in 1935, Francesco Lo Savio
would die at only 28 years of age, already one of the most individual and complex figures in the world of post-war European art. An exponent of artistic creations that later became known as ‘primary structures,’ he is to be credited with heralding the advent of Minimalism at a time when the dominant artistic trend was the very anti-minimalist Pop Art. Whilst this latter celebrated the world of consumer durables, Lo Savio turned his attention to avant-garde research that explored the deep meaning of the lessons of Mondrian, Malevich and the Bauhaus. Totally eschewing post-romanticism of any kind, the artist – who had trained as an architect – asserted the values of light, form and space, exploring their reciprocal interaction and their relation to forms of social organisation. Primarily concentrated in the five-year period 1958-1963, Lo Savio’s output comprises three cycles of paintings: Spazio Luce, in which he focuses upon the energy of pure forms such as the circle and square; Filtri, in which he superimposes forms to transform them into ‘bodies of light;’ and Metalli, in which industrial techniques and materials are used to form constructions that occupy physical space.
The work in this room, Spazio Luce
, is an attempt to use the dynamic qualities of light to annihilate the distance between the sphere of aesthetic perception and the sphere of the real: in effect, changes in the intensity of light render the image dynamic, projecting it into the space occupied by the spectator himself.
Filtro e rete
(in Room 17) achieves interaction with the surrounding space via the use of superimposed nets; acting as a filter, these modify the quantity of light that passes through them. As one can see from these two works, Lo Savio’s art is predicated upon an undercutting of material presence. In his very special combination of lightness and stark asceticism, the gravity of thought acts as a filter upon the gravity of matter.
“Seek the extremes – that’s where the action is” was the motto of Lee Lozano
, a key figure in the New York art scene of the 60s. And whether it was pushing the limits of her own work conceptually or taking strident, sometimes masochistic, political positions, this motto represented a kind of raison d’être by which she strove to live and work. Her brief career was inspired by a deeply-felt critique of male bias and discrimination within the art world. Combining minimalism and conceptualism, her work comprises paintings, drawings and sculptures; often these depict screwdrivers, nuts and bolts, saws and hammers – all modern attributes of male power (ten of these works are exhibited at Punta della Dogana). In 1971 the artist devised The Boycott Piece, an artistic action which was also a gesture of self-destruction. Given that women had no power, she herself would deal henceforth solely with men. She decided that she would never speak to women again, and shortly afterwards withdrew entirely from the art scene. The two Lozano paintings at Palazzo Grassi explore the bases of abstract painting. Imbued with a powerfully physical presence, they are like distillations of force and energy; the forms/vectors within them seem to become solid matter, concentrations of pure energy. Violet and dark browns are illuminated by flashes of brilliant yellow; the canvas seems to be invaded, generating a sense of time and space in expansion, opening up to include both artist and spectator.