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Alberto Savinio

 (1891 - 1952)
Alberto Savinio was active/lived in Italy.  Alberto Savinio is known for painting.

Alberto Savinio

Biography from Christie's Milan

Alberto Savinio (real name Andrea De Chirico), one of the most prominent artistic personalities of our century, gave proof of a multifaceted talent that allowed him to excel in many fields.  Having benefited, like his brother Giorgio de Chirico, a refined and elitist education, Recep since the stimuli of a young international culture, so that they can be considered one of the first intellectual figure authentically and fully European.

Born of Italian parents in Athens, where he undertook his musical studies at 15 years, he moved to Monaco of Bavaria, in Germany, due to the death of his father.  From here makes some trips to Italy before taking the decision to move to Paris, the heart of intellectual life at that time.  In the French capital, where it will be reached soon after by her brother and mother, has worked with some avant-garde magazines and comes into contact with personalities of the first order including Guillaume Apollinaire and Alfred Stieglitz, who will convert it to painting.  During the period of World War make contacts with the Zurich Dada group in addition to closely monitor the developments of the Met.  After the war will continue to travel between Paris and Italy until his death in Rome in 1952. 

Painter, musician, writer, counts among its business collaborations with magazines and novels, set designs and paintings, graphics and mural painting, music for operas and ballets.  His most important contribution is in any case, the pictorial, linked to the development of a world that-despite the controversies of his brother with the surrealist artists-is certainly very close to the poetic and dreamlike imagery of Surrealism.  The main distinction between the Surrealists and Savino in the fundamentals of poetic surrealist leave room for the drives and the unconscious has already effected the work of art and the better the result, at least the process is controlled in Savinio.  Instead, the task of art is to give form to information, bringing out the unconscious until it is consciousness.  Art is thus the product of technique, tradition, memory (individual and collective, historical and mythical), that is "will to form" to use an expression of Nietzsche.

The period of greatest fertility is undoubtedly one of the artist in Paris, between 1926 and 1933.  Those are the years when, around two brothers, de Chirico, was formed in Paris a colony of Italian artists, including Severini, De Pisis, Campigli, Tozzi, Paresce, the cossiddetti Italiens de Paris.  It was in this period that the artist, how to mark a rebirth, took the pseudonym Alberto Savinio (apparently found by Giorgio de Chirico, who later regret not keeping him for herself.) 

To this period belong the most important series of paintings Savinio, the so-called 'toys'.  Some objects in these paintings resemble brightly colored children's building blocks or wooden toys.  As often happens in the paintings of de Chirico, an identification of these with objects not stand up to analysis conducted according to the criteria of realistic representation, but what matters is that these objects have the appearance of toys and especially the symbolic function they perform (as indeed happens in dreams, as the replacement or alteration of objects or persons a typical process of dreaming).  They are related to creativity and allow children the right to recourse to a symbolic dimension of freedom and innocence untouched, but mainly represent objects of desire for the child.  From this point of view, the toys are related to the relief given by the surreal erotic dimension in a broad sense, understood as a realm of unlimited desire, their aspiration to the satisfaction of the drives.

Desire is a priority for both Savinio and for the Surrealists and is opposed to the limits dictated by education, enslavement to the conventions, the constraints of social life.  The toys are juxtaposed with a dark background of forest, primitive-looking.  Even the symbolic resonances of these environments are very strong: the toys are normally associated with the comforting domestic dimension, but here are reversed in an outsider, in a situation that transmits feelings of insecurity, abandonment and danger, reflecting essentially the worst insecurities unconscious.  The forest in which they find themselves abandoned and submerged in the depths of a primordial past, not historical but mythical.  Here appears a link with the timelessness of myth and art, one of the recurrent obsessions de Chirico brothers, fueled by a childhood spent in Greece with age-old ruins.  The source of the representation of ferns and plants was identified by the phallic shape and confirms the reference to remote epoch.  The landscape is in fact taken over virtually unchanged from a print of L. Figuier in 1879 entitled La Terre avant le deluge (earth before the flood).

The revival of nineteenth-century illustrations is a very common procedure among the Surrealists (just think of Max Ernst) and you can use existing materials and sedimented in the unconscious by minimizing the intervention of the artist and ironically subvert a representation that strives to be realistic.  The representation of the forest is played on the variations of gray, which emphasize its threatening appearance and devoid of life, while toys are richly colored with primary colors and higher range.  It is as if objects and taking light from background sources is completely different, or as if this miracle was made by our attention, which devotes much attention to toys of desire in an effort to remove threats from nature or from the unconscious.

Titles of other paintings and writings of Savinio give the impression that the presence of toys in his imagination was destined to 'fertilize' the forest.  So here we are facing a paradoxical interpretation: inanimate objects make fruitful of living forms and appear vital and joyous nature as opposed to a dark and repulsive.  Many of the issues discussed here will be developed in the subsequent painting activity of Savinio, greater expression and inhabited by obsessions for the passage of time, the disintegration and decay, but in this painting are a first statement of elegance that can be called restless classical.

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About  Alberto Savinio

Born:  1891 - Athens
Died:   1952 - Rome
Known for:  painting