Emilio Vedova

The Plurimi of Emilio Vedova are clear precursors of Stella’s relief paintings, and the differences between the two groups of work are revealing. Vedova’s works had an origin in sets for an opera by Luigi Nono that he had done in 1961. The effort was to make an enveloping space, to place the viewer within the work, so they are also precursors of installation art. Vedova’s famous installation/show of 1964, called “Absurdes Berliner Tagebuch,” or “Absurd Berlin Diary,” gives the most typical examples.

Emiliio Vedova, Plurimo Omaggio a Dada Berlin, 1964-1965

Emilio Vedova, reinstallation of the Absurdes Berliner Tagebuch 1964-65, Berlin 2008

In the Plurimi the planes are all flat, some hinged, and the edges straight. In Stella’s reliefs the edges are mostly curved and the planes often so. He packs his forms together rather than opening them out of each other, and the whole arrangement is frontal. Vedova is trying to spread, to conquer space; Stella, as he has often said, stays pictorial, if pictorial means a kind of gathering of everything together in front of a ground plane. In a major series that follows Moby Dick, the Kleist reliefs, he goes even further in the same direction. There is not a straight line in sight, and all the forms are curved—some actually enclose space. This piece is almost ten feet high, and a good example of the kind of packing together that I’m talking about. A click will give a clearer and larger image.

Frank Stella, ‘At Sainte Luce!’ (Hoango) (Q#1) 1998

Vedova was of the generation of de Kooning and Pollock, and found his own way to gestural abstraction. He seems to have been a slightly crazy but very appealing character. He evidently had no theories, just action all the way. Like Stella, his working practice was very physical.

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2 Responses to Emilio Vedova

  1. Thank you for this post– I found you via Painter’s Table– I have to say I do still feel the painted whorls and forms in Stella’s work have their own life. But I love discovering Emilio Vedova through your eyes here. The energy, the gestural paint and the jagged edges… really fantastic. Thanks!

  2. Philip says:

    A nice introduction to this work. Thanks. Stella goes in and out of favor but I always think of him as a master.

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