By Ioannis Tzortzakakis

Italian sculptor, member of art Informel movement, Francesco Somaini died on 19 November 2005 in Como. He was born on 6 August 1926 in Lomazzo near Como. He followed the courses of Giacomo Manzù at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera. In 1948, he presented his work for the first time at the National Exhibition of Figurative arts, promoted by the Quadrennial of Rome. He had also started studying classics, yet he later turned to law, graduating from the University of Brera in Milan in 1949, and the following year he participated for his first time in Biennale of Venice. Later on, Somaini had exhibited widely throughout Europe, and completed a number of national and international large scale commissions. In 2007, the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome organized the first posthumous retrospective dedicated to his work.

Somaini’s sculpture – sculpture of the fragment – not the fragment of anything specific but fragment in the absolute sense. A reconstruction of the original from which the fragment was rent would show us not an object but space; to locate this space one would have to delve into time past since, for Somaini, space is not universal hypothesis but the world of yesterday. In the plastic masses one can still clearly make out the horizontal, vertical, oblique, croocked and criss-cross thrusts of some time space that no longer has existence. These are masses without existence that have a spacial origin. The space, with its distinct structure, had occupied the place where now there is nothing but a formless lump of overwrought, barely quenched matter; the passages through which blew the vital currents of space can still be seen like huge veins laid bare and dissected. The process of aggregation in this plastic matter is not centrifugal but centripetal: the matter does not expand, it extracts or deducts itself from space; it does not dilate, it deposits. Space, therefore, is done with, it ceases to exist; it has left, however, a solid residue which is our only source of knowledge concerning its original nature. Thus we discover that this space was not, was never, a geometrical construction; it was reality itself, heavy with things and happenings, widespread, without confine, and quivering with life.

(From: Somaini, Italian Cultural Institute, New York, 1960; XXX Venice Biennale, 1960)

Further reading

Francesco Somaini. Il periodo informale 1957-1964. Catalogo della mostra (Roma, 20 settembre-25 novembre 2007).

Francesco Somaini archive

La Farisea, 1947.

Verticale III. Assalonne, 1959.

Ferito VI. Alato, 1960.

Monumento ai Marinai d’Italia, 1965-67, Corso XXII Marzo, Milano.

Etna magico. Le pietre nere, 1999, Solomon R. Guggenheim, Venezia.

Fortunia Vincitrice, 1997-2000.

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