Magazine article Art Monthly

Luciano Fabro 1936-2007

Magazine article Art Monthly

Luciano Fabro 1936-2007

Article excerpt

'The avant-garde is an art of grocers; it smells of a mixture of cheese and soap powder. The avantgarde is the fear of art. It is competition.' That was Luciano Fabro in 1978. He was a puzzling and mischievous artist, whatever one makes of the partial turn towards the mythological of his later work--evident in The Sun, made for the Duveen galleries at the Tate in 1997, based on the fluting of classical columns--or indeed the mischievousness evident in the surpassingly odd 'Piedi' series (feet, of beasts or birds), first exhibited in 1972. Impressively, they still seemed out of place compared with other works of the time when seen in Tate Modern's Arte Povera survey 'Zero to Infinity', 2001. The 'Feet', with their use of carving and casting of the foot elements in marble, bronze, aluminium, glass and other materials, fitted with silk columns to make a notional leg that vanishes straight to the ceiling, were for Fabro a contrarian attack on Germano Celant's definition of Fabro and fellow artists by their use of 'poor' materials and also a superb anti-classical grotesque; though grotesque has, historically, often been a feature of conservative and aristocratic taste. What is sometimes hard to judge in Fabro's work is his commitment to the idea of work and craftsmanship--including crafts such as dressmaking, as in the careful dressing of the silk around the 'Feet'. Work, more generally, was an explicit interest, strangely chiming with Mierle Laderman Ukeles. In Floor/Tautology, 1967, an area of floor is covered with plain tiles, with the instruction that they 'must be kept clean and shined and and constantly covered with paper or newspapers: all experience of this work is limited to maintenance'. …

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