Giannetto Salotti, Lucca sculptor, graphic artist and painter: from the art of the Etruscans to Twentieth Century Vanguard

Giannetto Salotti (Lucca, 1918-2013) conjures up a rather distant world. A true, free-spirited artist who dedicated his entire life to expressing the world and the figures inhabiting it through his works, with an artistic and personal authority worthy of great Twentieth-century artists.

Franca Severini

Born in Lucca, he studied here and in Florence and has always maintained ties with his native city where he taught and was acclaimed by critics and enthusiasts throughout the world. Giannetto Salotti passed away on August 28, 2013 at 95 years of age while walking on the urban walls of the city and headed for his studio, as he did every day. In Lucca, everybody knew him and today everybody speaks about his art. An art which has inevitably left a mark. An art having a strong Etruscan imprint like in the extraordinary female faces, for example, or an art brimming with the future, like in his abstract sculptures that associate him with other great artists the likes of Hans Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Joan Mirò and Henri Moore, invited like Salotti himself to the Sculpture Seminars of the Henraux Foundation. Today, some museums such as Piacenza’s Museo della Poesia, the refined Soave di Codogno, Genoa’s “Mazziniano” and the Catania Museum have acquired several works of his, consecrating the greatness of their author for ages to come.

HIS IMMENSE ATELIER IS LOOKED AFTER BY HIS DAUGHTER ILARIA SALOTTI, who is devotedly catering the future of this heritage, an excellence of the city of Lucca. In this place of work and study, we can find documents, accounts, correspondence between the artist and colleagues, buyers and critics like Antonello Trombadori, Pier Carlo Santini, Arrigo Benedetti, Raffaele Carrieri, Manlio Cancogni, Paul Dumon, Lucia Toesca, Domenico Acconci, Roberto Giovannelli, Mario Marzocchi, Tommaso Paloscia, Mirko Pucciarelli, Florio Santini, Antonella Serafini, Amedeo Anelli up to fellow lucchese and scholar Daniela Marcheschi, who wrote about Salotti: “The work by Giannetto Salotti strikes above all for the confidence of a dexterity rooted in the idea of exercising art, pursuant to the most solid Italian Twentieth century tradition.”

A LETTER SENT TO GIANNETTO SALOTTI BY PAINTER MARCO PASEGA (LUCCA, 1944 -1983) for the inauguration of one of his exhibits, contains a critique that expresses the feeling and style of his art: “Reference point in educating and in humanity, having him near is a continuous spur in the perseverance of inventing. A man of the people, of anarchist opinions, he is also a friend of the quadrivium, so he does not deny anyone participation to free discussion. The marble that he domesticates in his determined and violent modelling translates into large and mysterious objects, archetypes of Mediterranean and ancestral sensuality. These menhirs of his recur as examples of victory of the tenacious reasoning of a small and ancient man, almost Etruscan, on the formless and random elements of nature. A man of acumen and wise judgment, he expresses the continuous and ungraspable dynamics of his feelings in plastic forms. Never tiring of describing his experiences in an effort to have others understand them, he teaches the true way to sculpt through precepts and examples. This great exhibition of his that we are all celebrating tonight must remain a moral way of life and of commitment… Hurray for Giannetto, may his works live forever!”

SALOTTI’S WORKS HAVE BEEN EXHIBITED IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES, from Brazil to Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Venezuela and also in Japan and his art is expressed not only through the plastic models of the sculptures and of the various materials he has used throughout his life, but also through graphics, yet another high point of his artistic expression. A letter by Professor Gian Luigi Zucchini dated 2005 and addressed to the artist, recites: “Your collection of drawings that also includes the oldest samples denotes an uncommon ability to create forms and motion using brief strokes and sketches. A compactness and a solidity, especially in the figures, that go well beyond that strength that will emerge later in the entwined figures, in the horses, and then in the free forms created as extremely pure abstractions lightly drawn using a dark, perfect stroke.

I was able to once again hear and feel the echoes and traditions of an ancient, eternal Tuscany: the Angel by Arnolfo di Cambio, a twist of forms at odds that recalls Michelangelo’s relief located in his home in Florence, and many others. Your art (because we are really speaking about art here) does not stem from void improvisations, but is rooted in the most sublime culture and history of art, and allows experiencing the outcome in a modern key. The new conception of forms and figures should always be tied to solid bases conveyed down through time and your works intensely manifest the powerful energy of a strong but at the same time balanced and harmonious creativity that make the observer say: Now there’s a real artist”.


Photo credits Caterina Salvi

www.caterinasalvi.com and Ermete Cheli

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