Angelo Savelli, Italian (1911 - 1995)

Angelo Savelli
Angelo Savelli born in Pizzo Calabro, Catanzaro, 30th October, 1911. Since his childhood, Savelli's interest in art grew thanks to his uncle, the painter Alfonso Barone. When he finishes High school, he enrols at the "Accademia delle Belle Arti" graduating in 1936.
1930 On finishing the Liceo Classico in Vibo Valentia, his father, Giorgio Savelli, a pharmacist, persuades him to develop his artistic potential, so he moves to Rome, attends the Liceo Artistico, there he meets his friend and school-fellow, Ferruccio Ferrazzi. In this period Savelli is a guest of the Minister of Royal House of Savoy, Lucifero falcone, his father friend.
1935 He wins the "Mattia Preti" prize and consequently the "Balestra" for the competition, organized by the Accademia di San Luca in Rome.
1936 He gets the diploma of the Accademia delle Belle Arti, paints in fresco the chapel of Villa Boimond in Sora, and is awarded by the Esposizione Regionale Calabrese.
1940 He settles in the studio in 49 via Margutta, a popular area frequented by artists Guttuso, Franchina, Jarema, Fazzini, Severini, and others. Savelli dedicates himself to teaching, which does not prevent him from having a lively artistic activity. He is awarded by the Mostra Regionale del Lazio.
1941 He wins one of the four "two thousand five hundred lire" additional prizes awarded by the Terzo Premio Bergamo.
1942 He wins one of the four "Five thousand lire" additional prizes awarded by the Quarto Premio Bergamo. He reads his first book on Yoga philosophy which leads him to discover the "path" he will follow all his life.
1943 He is called up to serve in the army and after the painful experience of the war, he returns to Rome. He joins the Futuristica circle, becoming a member of the Art Club, an Independent International Artistic Association, whose first members had been Jarema, Severini, Fazzini, Guzzi, Montanarini and Tamburi, and later Dorazio, Mafai, Corpora, Perilli, Consagra and Turcato. At the same time he meets Alberto Burri, also at the beginning of his artistic career, who becomes one of his dearest friends. Unlike the others, Savelli seems to be the most available and open minded towards young artists.
1946-1947 The realization of the first works of Savelli in white abstract-figurative stains. In several crucifixions, Christ and Maddalena are white-painted. Savelli needs to feel new emotions; the Scuola Romana restricts him, where as Futurismo and the new experiment of Prampolini, urge him to search for new techniques to follow.
1947 He stays for several months in Venice, wins the "Colli Euganei" prize at Abano.
1948 He gets a one month scholarship in Paris, where Savelli will stay a year. This experience is critical for him, and launches him into a more international and wider dimension of art. He declares: "I realized I had to free myself from the Italian sublime tradition...". He paints many Indian ink and water-colour drawings.
1949 He returns to Rome, finding it very difficult to get his friends to accept this new orientation. During his years in Rome he had been an Expressionist, but on returning from Paris, he has a different view about modern art, one that cannot be understood by his contemporaries in Rome, only Corpora, Turcato and Santommaso are aware of abstract art. At the Caffè Rosati, meeting place of the art world, he meets the young Federico Fellini, who spends hours and hours watching and studying the movements of the artists and intellectuals. This year he meets Theodorus Stamos in Rome.
1950 The first abstract creations with the two works "Oltre l'inquieto". He takes part at the XXV Biennale di Venezia.
1953 He marries journalist, Elisabeth Fischer, and even though he is a well-known and successful artist, he decides to leave Italy, finding the courage to do so thanks to his innate feeling of freedom. He settles definitely in America, in New York, a city, difficult but full of live, competitive but international. Savelli immediately gets to know the important artists; Fritz Glarner, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Richeter. He is held in high esteem by all the greats of abstract, from Robert Motherwell to Ad Reinhardt and Barnett Newman who adore him and with whom he later becomes great friends. He frequents the Art Club on 10th Street and the artists of the New York School, where he meets Philip Pavia and Jack Tworkov, who give him the studio between the 10th Street and 4th Avenue. In front of his studio there are the workshops of Franz Kline, Wilhelm Dekooning. But even though he is part of this top quality artists' circle, he does not want to belong to only one group or one circle, he never sees art dealers only to sell his works, an unacceptable compromise. Savelli considers himself a man of free spirit and he is loved for his humanity and sensitivity, his poetry and innocence, that express his personality. The same year Savelli meet the artist Will Barnet; more than a friendship, they became like real brothers.
1954 The realization of the work entitled "Oval Skin".
1955 He begins a series of serigraphs and collages at the Chelsea Workshop.
1956 He paints "Bianco su bianco", a monochrome serigraphy and his first completely white painting.
1957 His first exhibition in New York.
1958 His first personal exhibition at the Galleria Leo Castelli represents the beginning of the most important period of his career in America. He is awarded at the international competition of Disegno industriale Battistoni.
1959 Savelli approaches the white colour through relief printings, changes the materials, rejecting colours, modifying the shapes of his works, using the white spatula painting and later strings, plasters, very light and transparent fabric, veils, tulle, raising the white as the only pure, bright and absolute colour. Savelli works out a monochrome art, distancing himself from the expressive violence of the action painting and of di gesto painting, realizing works of extreme elegance and solemn cleanness, a compelling inner need to reach simplicity. According to the critics his artistic ability is to be considered a creation of images free from every figurative references, that aspire to reach the essentiality of things.
1960 The director of the "University of Pennsylvania", G. Homes Perkins, together with Louis Kahn, an architect of international reputation decide to re-modernize the school, they ask Aldo Giurgola, a very clever Italian architect to teach. He invites Angelo Savelli and Piero Dorazio to reorganize the planning and the studies for the Department of Fine Arts; the painting, sculpture and graphics. Savelli accepts the invitation and leaves the appointment as director of the American Arts School in Positano and settles in Pennsylvania. Savelli supervises all the activities of the students, who also considered him to be the most charismatic personage, giving them real help in whatever orientation, Savelli is a great authority on technique, painting and design and his great ability as Maestro is well known among young American artists. In a short time the school becomes the most important school of American Arts. During this period Savelli suffers from serious physical disorders that he manages to overcome due to his profound knowledge of Zen philosophy. By performing the exercises and practising yoga meditation every day, and completely changing his diet and sleeping on a futon on the floor the disorders cease. It is thanks to this ife long discipline that he is able to overcome any sad and moving experiences. A deep friendship, lasting a life time between Savelli, Louis Kahn and Aldo Giurgola. Savelli lives for ten years in Springtown, without giving up his studio in New York.
1961 He receives the "Lissone "prize.
1962 He creates his first creations using string and realizes eleven embossed lithographic white on white works, shown by Giulio Carlo Argan (Grattacielo, Milan 1962).
1963 The publication of a book with lithographs by Savelli entitled "Ten poems by American poets" (Romero, Rome 1963).
1964 He wins the "Gran Premio della Grafica alla XXXIII Biennale di Venezia" prize for his twenty-seven white on white reliefs.
1965-1970 The realization of the first hall for meditation called "Paradise", in his studio on 186 Bowery Street, New York
1966 He teaches at Columbia University of New York.
1969-1970 The realization of the "Paradise II" project at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and "Dante's Inferno" at the Peale Galleries of Pennsylvania of Fine Arts in Philadelphia
1971 The realization of the "Illumine one" project, exhibited in 1972 at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York, catalogue introduction by Louis Kahn.
1973 The installation of the sculpture "Empedocles" at the Lincoln Center of Syracuse in New York.
1975 He teaches for two years as visiting artist at the State University of Pennsylvania and paints "Wall to Wall", shown at the exhibition at Pennsylvania State University.
1976 He creates his first unframed canvas, applied directly on the wall. He paints the series of canvases called "On the quantity of surface".
1977 He realizes a series of forty white on white engravings. He accepts the seat as visiting professor at the University of Texas in Arlington, where he spends the winter semesters for four years.
1978 The realization of the installation "Tree with 84 tree trunks", exhibited at the Max Hutchinson Gallery in New York.
1980 He receives the "Guggenheim Fellowship" from the Guggenheim Museum in New York, that allows him to live in Europe and organize personal exhibitions in Milan, Zurich and Rome.
1981 The realization of the sculpture called Aglaophon", exhibited at the Aubodon Art Center in New York.
1982 After a long and suffered period of depression, his wife Elisabeth dies tragically. Elisabeth's obscure disease has badly influenced Savelli's artistic life for some time. Her dramatic death comes as a great shock for him and he will get over it only after a long period of complete solitude.
He receives a gold medal for artistic merit from the town of Pizzo Calabro. The publication of the book entitled "Angelo Savelli, Opera grafica 1932 - 1981" by Giuseppe Apella., edition Scheinwiller.
1983 He is awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
1984 The PAC "Civico Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea" in Milan realizes a personal exhibition.
1984 He paints "Glory of a broken wing, to Elisabeth Fischer" dedicated to his wife. It is an extraordinary work measuring one thousand six hundred fifty centimetres.
1986 The publication of the book "Libro bianco" with engravings by Savelli' and poems by Lucini .,edition Scheinwiller.
1988 He changes studio, it will be his last, and moves to 257 Water Street at Sea Port, Pier 17, just a few meters from the river bank. It is a red brick town house, the second oldest building in New York and from the balcony you can nearly touch Brooklyn Bridge. Savelli loves this place and spends a lot of time at the "Paris Cafè", a meeting place for the young bloods of Wall Street during the day, and a sort of refuge for the fish market people at night, people who all know and love him. The Rai Corporation in New York realizes a documentary film on his life and buys some of Savelli's work which are still on show at the Rai Corporation building on 55th Street and Avenue of Americas in the MGM building.
1989 He meets Susanna Argenterio at the Rai Corporation in New York. He loves her as his own child and thanks to this great affection, Savelli feels alive after years in loneliness. They spend a great deal of time together in New York and Italy, at the Argenterio family home in the province of Brescia
1991 The opening of the Centro d'Arte Contemporanea Angelo Savelli in Lamezia Terme in Calabria.
1993 He begins the realization of "an unfinished room" at the hotel L'Atelier sul Mare at the Castel di Tusa in Sicily.
1994 Savelli meets in New York Patrizio Bertelli and his wife Miuccia Prada, they visit his studio and full in love with his work Savelli is attracted by Bertellì's vitality and an agreement is reach between the two, and in a short while Bertelli becomes his reference point.
When Bertelli visits again him in his studio and explains his ideas about his artistic future, Angelo accepts his guidance and supports the organization he suggests.
30th Nov., 1994 Savelli receives a telegram from the President of the Biennale di Venezia, Gian Luigi Rondi, stating that the committee of the Biennale, following the proposal of the director, professor Jean Clair, have invited him to participate with a personal exhibition in the Italian section at the XLVI Biennale di Venezia. At the beginning of December, Savelli has some health problems. Susanna Argenterio realizes that the Maestro needs help, consequently she leaves Italy and goes to New York to be with him. Savelli realizes that he cannot continue living alone and with the help of Susanna, he decides to close his studio and settle in Italy for a while.
14th Feb., 1995 Savelli receives a letter from Antonella Soldaini, administrator of the "Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci" in Prato, who invites him to realize an anthological exhibition from June to September 1995. Although it is a wonderful period of His life it is also a difficult time for Savelli, as the innovations and the many decisions to be taken overtax him. By the end of March, Savelli, his work and all his memories reach Italy, where he was to have followed the realization of the planned exhibitions personally. On Easter sunday just two weeks after his arrival in Italy Angelo feels very ill. It is difficult for him to walk so the Argenterio family,where he is staying decide to take him urgently to Sant'Orsola Hospital in Brescia. He is very weak and can breath only with the help of an oxygen mask.
27th Apr., 1995 Savelli dies at Castello di Boldeniga in Dello, Brescia, at the age of eighty-three, surrounded by friends, love and affection. He will miss seeing, by only a few weeks his two personal exhibitions that had enchanted him.
XLVI Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte, la Biennale di Venezia; Museo Pecci in Prato in co-operation with PradaMilanoArte.
Nov., 1995 Vittoria Biasi in colaboration with the Galleria EdiEuropa - Qui arte Contemporanea realizes a personal exhibition of Savelli, in Rome "Savelli prima del Bianco".
27th Apr., 1996 A year after the death of the Maestro the Argenterio-Ghidini family commemorate him and his art at the Castello di Boldeniga in Dello, Brescia, with a ten-work exhibition.

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