Pietro Consagra

(Mazara del Vallo, 1920 – Milano, 2005)


Pietro Consagra (1920-2005) was one of Italy’s most renowned post-war sculptors whose work rejected the tradition of three-dimensional sculpture to embrace a more direct mode of interaction between art and audience.

Born in Mazara del Vallo on the south west coast of Sicily, Consagra trained in the Accademia in Palermo from 1941 to 1944, before moving to Rome, where Renato Guttuso lent him his studio. Consagra saw the ateliers of Brancusi, Picasso, and Giacometti on a visit to Paris. He also found inspiration in the wrought iron sculptures of Julio Gonzalez, and in the work of Anton Pevsner. Consagra became friends with the young Dorazio, Perilli, Giulio Turcato, and Carla Accardi, and, in 1947, he was a founder member of the Forma 1 group, which championed abstraction in the face of the Marxist realism promoted by Guttuso.

Exhibiting at various galleries in Italy and taking part in the Venice Biennale eleven times between 1950 and 1993, Consagra enjoyed international acclaim, including exhibitions at the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Gallery in London.

Primarily interested in liberating sculpture from the burdens of any historical legacy, Pietro Consagra worked in bronze and iron to create sculptures that were flattened and almost two-dimensional. In this way, he disposed of a normative authoritarian centre in favour of a frontal outlook that established a far more open ‘tête-à-tête’ between work and viewer.

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