FIUME Salvatore

Salvatore Fiume | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books


"In Sicily you prefer not to do things, but tell her, pretending to have made them; and to tell her satisfaction is greater than that which is elsewhere proof making. »
(Salvatore Fiume)



Salvatore Fiume (Comiso, 23 October 1915 - Milan, 3 June 1997) was an Italian painter. He was also a sculptor, architect, writer and set designer.

Salvatore Fiume was born in Comiso, Sicily, October 23, 1915. At sixteen, thanks to his talent and his passion for art, he won a scholarship to attend the Royal Art Institute of the Book of Urbino, where learned the techniques of printing, from engraving to lithography. After completing his studies in 1936, he moved to Milan, where he came into contact with intellectuals and artists of the stature of Salvatore Quasimodo, Dino Buzzati and Raffaele Carrieri.

At the age of twenty-three, in 1938, Fiume moved to Ivrea, where he became art director of a cultural magazine commissioned and followed by Adriano Olivetti, Technique and Organization; in these years he realized his first literary work, the novel Viva Gioconda !, published in Milan in 1943 by the publisher Bianchi-Giovini.

Wanting to devote himself especially to painting, although the literary environment that he frequented was stimulating, in 1946 he left Ivrea to settle in Canzo, not far from Como, in a nineteenth-century ex-spinning mill where he began his intense and multifaceted research path as well as painting , also in sculpture and architecture.

In the same year, in Milan, he presented a series of tempera and ink drawings to the poet and art critic Raffaele Carrieri and to the painter and writer Alberto Savinio, brother of the now famous metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico, who remained enthusiastic about it.
His first official exhibition, which included the works of the Islands of Statues and City of Statues cycle and which allowed him to arouse much interest in criticism and to make contact with artistic and cultural institutions worldwide, was held in 1949 at the Galleria Borromini from Milan; here he bought one of his works, both the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Alfred H. Barr Jr., and the Jucker collection in Milan. In the same year he took part in the Twentieth-Century Italian Art exhibition at the MoMA in New York [1]. The following year, in 1950, he was invited to the Venice Biennale where he exhibited the triptych Island of statues, a work which he dedicated a page to the American magazine Life and which is now part of the collection of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Vatican Museums.

In the same year he was invited by architect Gio Ponti to realize a great work of 48 × 3 meters for the first class salon of the Andrea Doria, the famous ocean liner that sank in 1956 off Nantucket, Massachusetts. The large canvas, entitled "The legends of Italy, represented an imaginary Renaissance city full of Italian masterpieces of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries reproduced by Fiume himself.The large canvas was painted and prepared for transport in Salvatore Fiume's atelier in Canzo, in the province of Como, where the painter had as assistants the young painters Gianfranco Ferroni and Angelo Daverio.

Already in 1949 he was working on a cycle of ten large paintings, commissioned by the industrialist Bruno Buitoni Sr and titled Adventures, misfortunes and glories of ancient Perugia, which ended in 1952; in these works, to which the young Sicilian painter Salvatore Jemolo collaborated as an assistant, Fiume's interest in Renaissance painting is evident, especially that of Piero della Francesca and Paolo Uccello. In 1953 he was commissioned by Life and Time magazines in New York some works in which Fiume represented an imaginary history of Manhattan and the Bay of New York, imagined as islands of statues.
So the artist began a phase of contacts, travels and exhibitions for the whole world. These journeys had a considerable importance for Fiume in the collection of impressions, sounds, shapes and colors of ancient and modern cultures, which increased his artistic personality by providing material for the expansion of a global imaginary, but always governed by the preponderant lesson of classicism Mediterranean.

In 1962 a traveling exhibition of one hundred paintings of Fiume touched several German museums, including those of Cologne and Regensburg. In 1973, together with his friend photographer Walter Mori, Fiume went to the Babile Valley, in Ethiopia, where he painted some of his 'islands' on a group of rocks, using marine anti-corrosion paints. A model of a section of these life-size rocks was built by Fiume for the great retrospective of 1974 at the Palazzo Reale in Milan; this model filled almost entirely the great Hall of the Caryatids. At the same exhibition he presented for the first time the African Mona Lisa, a work with which Fiume wanted to pay homage to the beauty of the African woman, portraying it in the same pose as Leonardo's Mona Lisa. It is now housed in the Vatican Museums.

In 1975 the Calabrian town of Fiumefreddo Bruzio accepted Salvatore Fiume's proposal to revitalize the historic center free of charge with some of his works. The painter then painted between 1975 and 1976 some internal and external walls of the ancient semi-detached castle, and, in 1977, the vault of the chapel of San Rocco. In the Nineties he placed a bronze sculpture in each of the two panoramic squares of Fiumefreddo. Several exhibitions followed: in 1985 the one at Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome; in 1987 the exhibition De Architectura Pingendi at the Sporting d'Hiver of Monte Carlo inaugurated by Prince Ranieri of Monaco; in 1991 at the International Architecture Exhibition in Milan, at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni; in 1992 at Villa Medici, seat of the French Academy in Rome.

In 1993 Fiume visited, together with photographer Mimmo Dabbrescia, the places where Gauguin had lived in Polynesia; he also donated one of his paintings to the Gauguin Museum in Tahiti, as a tribute to the great French master. From this experience the book Omaggio alla Polinesia, Prospettive d'arte, Milan, 1992 was born.

Salvatore Fiume died in Milan on 3 June 1997. His works are conserved in some of the most important museums in the world, including the Vatican Museums, the Hermitage of St. Petersburg, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Puškin Museum of Moscow and the Milan Modern Art Gallery.