Salvo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2023 | Phillips

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  • While considered a figurative artist, Salvo rarely paints the figure; rather, he gives priority to what he sees as the true protagonist of his paintings—light. Light is everywhere in Se Elena mi chiede un quadro rosso tra zero e tutto questo è quello che posso from 2009: a cool glow reflects off the candy-hued tree in the foreground at right; the geometric, faceless buildings that populate his fictional town are steeped in lush gradients, diffused by the soft glow of the waning sun in the upper left. The artist’s masterful rendering of natural light in his otherworldly landscapes evokes the dreamy wash of memory. Salvo’s landscape is one shaped by empathy rather than reality.


    “For me painting soon acquired a relation with reality, though always filtered by memory ... At the same time it’s as though everything I paint now were a self-portrait, as though it contained me, my history, my body, and so there is no longer any need to depict myself directly.”


    Salvo was born Salvatore Mangione in 1947 in Leonforte, Italy. An Italian Modernist, Salvo’s practice originally consisted of conceptual photography and sculpture. He would later be associated with the 1960s Arte Povera movement—notably sharing a studio with Alighiero Boetti—before turning to painting in 1973. He would ultimately come to be known for the brightly colored landscapes he commended in the early 1980s, inspired by the likes of Giorgio de Chirico, and which would define the latter half of his oeuvre.


    Se Elena mi chiede un quadro rosso tra zero e tutto questo è quello che posso, which roughly translates to “If Elena asks me for a red painting between zero and all, that’s what I can do,” is iconic of the artist’s landscape practice and embodies the qualities of timelessness, nostalgic intimacy and a longing for solitude which are intrinsic to Salvo’s paintings. The work and its title are a cheeky response to gallerist Elena Zonca, Salvo's close friend, who asked him to paint a red work for a show of monochromes she was organizing. Salvo, who of course never made monochromes, created the pink-hued example in response to her request. Painted in 2009, this work was created in Salvo's twilight years, just a few years before his passing in 2015. Demonstrating the pinnacle of his painterly prowess, this painting is emblematic of Salvo’s mastery of light and expertise in color. As independent curator and art writer Luca Cerizza aptly sums, “In the end, all his work is this: a movement from reality to fable, if not to myth.”i



    i Luca Cerizza, “Salvo Autogrill, 2020” Galerie Mehdi Chouakri, March 2020, online.

    • Provenance

      Galleria In Arco, Turin
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property from a Private Italian Collection


Se Elena mi chiede un quadro rosso tra zero e tutto questo è quello che posso

signed, indistinctly inscribed and partially titled ""SE ELENA MI CHIEDE UN QUADRO ROSSO TRA ZERO E TUTTO QUESTO È QUEL CHE POSSO" Salvo" on the reverse
oil on canvas
31 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. (80 x 100 cm)
Painted in 2009, this work is registered in the Archivio Salvo, Turin, under the number S2009-95 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Archivio Salvo, Turin.

Full Cataloguing

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $406,400

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig 
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279 

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 November 2023