Salvo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, March 7, 2024 | Phillips

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  • “Painting has to remember all the sunsets of a life and all the sunsets of the world.”


    At once magnetic and energetic, ablaze with a smooth, luminous intensity, in Mediterraneo Salvo reconsiders the landscape genre through bold form and candied hues. As embers of orange and yellow smoulder against the emerald green ground, Salvo’s vision offers respite and solitude: a view of the Mediterranean that exudes warmth and eludes time.


    Known for his surreal visions of the natural world, Salvo (or Salvatore Mangione) was born on the 22nd May 1947 in Leonforte, Italy. Having spent his early childhood in Sicily, by 1956 Salvo’s family had relocated to Turin. A precocious draughtsman, Salvo’s talent was quickly recognised. By sixteen, his work was shown at the 121st exhibition of the Società Promotrice di Belle Arti. Four years later, Salvo had his first solo exhibition at Gian Enzo Sperone’s gallery, and began working in new, unexpected ways. Emboldened by Arte Povera’s rebellious energy and unconventional mediums, Salvo soon was associated with key members of the movement in Turin like Alighiero  Boetti, Mario Merz and Gilberto Zorio. It was therefore through photography, text and projects like his Lapidi (a take on the Duchamp’s readymade in the form of marble tombstones) that developed Salvo’s early creative practice.


    Yet, in a radical departure, by 1973 Salvo once again returned to the unfashionable medium of painting: a move that initiated a four-decade long dialogue between Salvo and the brush, representation and abstraction. In Mediterraneo, though the natural elements are familiar, Salvo subverts the traditional rules of perspective, eradicating brushstrokes and realising form through rich, saturated colour: a style that resembles Pittura Metafisica of Giorgio de Chirico or Carlo Carrà. As Salvo wrote in his Imitazione di Wittgenstein, ‘images have same depth of dreams […] they have the same type of ‘vision’ in common’.Using the example of a ‘tree’, Salvo poised further ‘do I see it has leaves, or do I know it has leaves?’ii Therefore, at its core­ Salvo’s painting considers the irreproducible nature of reality, that remains intangible, unstable and individualised even when immortalised through paint.


    Carlo Carrà, A Pine by the Sea, 1921, Private Collection. Image: GRANGER - Historical Picture Archive / Alamy Stock Photo, Artwork: © DACS 2024

    Simultaneously, personal and biographical elements inform Salvo’s landscapes. In Mediterraneo, Salvo records vegetation like cypress, palm and pine trees, native to his homeland, with clear attributes proportional to the space. Moreover, the vivid colours, however extreme, can be found in a Mediterranean seascape. Salvo in this way vacillates between fact and fiction, admitting ‘I behave towards Copenhagen, which I have not visited, in the same way that I behave towards Palermo, which I have: they are two possible directions’.iii


    Between the frontiers of ‘real’ and ‘imagined’, the process of painting remains as integral to Salvo as the subject itself. In a rare interview, Salvo stated frankly that painting is ‘a very passionate thing for me […] I don’t really know where to start’.iv Though completed towards the end of his life, Mediterraneo highlights the vitality and exuberance still part of Salvo’s later painterly practice: a fresh, chromatic play where light remains the true protagonist.


    Collector’s Digest


    • Salvo (or Salvatore Mangione) was born in Sicily on the 22nd May 1947. Following his families’ move from Catania to Turin in 1956, during his teenage years Salvo became immersed within the industrial city’s avant-garde, participating in the Arte Povera movement. After returning to painting in the seventies, Salvo commenced his celebrated pop-coloured landscapes by the end of the decade, informed by his wider travels to the Middle East, Asia and Africa alongside his native Italy.


    • Since Salvo’s inaugural solo show at Galleria Sperone, Turin in 1970, the artist has been subject to a series of exhibitions nationally and internationally, participating in the 41st Venice Biennale in 1984 and honoured with a major retrospective at Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin in 2007. Since his death in 2015, Salvo’s lyrical landscapes continue to feature in museum shows in Italy and beyond, including a major retrospective at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome in 2021.


    • In 2023, Salvo was the subject of two solo exhibitions in Paris and Brussels respectively. 


    i Salvo, ‘Della pittura. Imitazione di Wittgenstein’, in Salvo, exh. cat., Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, 2007, p. 42.

    ii Ibid, p. 44.

    iii Gianni Pozzi, ‘Landscapes of Invention’, in Salvo, exh. cat., ex Convento dei Cappuccini, Caraglio, 1999, p. 57.

    iv Salvo, quoted in Dede Auregli, ‘Inteview with Salvo’, Salvo, exh. cat., Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna, 1998, p. 123.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection
      Aste Boetto, Genoa, 28 October 2020, lot 224
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Property of a Prominent Private American Collection



signed, titled and indistinctly inscribed ‘Salvo “mediterraneo”’ on the reverse
oil on burlap
130.5 x 99.7 cm (51 3/8 x 39 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2008, this work is registered in the Archivio Salvo, Turin, under number N.S2008-55 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Archivio Salvo, Turin.

Full Cataloguing

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡♠

Sold for £368,300

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099


20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 7 March 2024