Italian sculptor and painter Agenore Fabbri

Agenore Fabbri

Italian sculptor, painter, and designer

Agenore Fabbri(May 20, 1911–November 7, 1998) was an Italian sculptor and painter who collaborated with Lucio Fontana creating furnishing details and who also designed the Nastro di Gala bench (better known as the Fabbri or Ribbon bench).

At the age of 12, Fabbri attended the Scuola d’Arte in Pistoia, and under the instruction of the painter Fabio Casanova, he started creating his first wax and plaster sculptures. In 1932, he moved to Florence for a year to continue his art education at the Accademia di Belle Arti and met several artists and intellectuals of a group named the Ermetici Group at the Caffè. read more

In 1933, at the end of his stay in Florence, he moved to Albisola (Savona), where he first worked in the ceramic workshop La Fiamma (The Flame). Later that same year, he joined the ceramic shop of his friend Tullio Mazzotti, where he met and was influenced by important ceramicists of the second generation of Futurism (e.g., Fillia, Antonio Sant’Elia, Nicolaj Diulgheroff).

By the late 1930s, Fabbrio had established his own ceramic studio and become good friends with the accomplished artists Arturo Martini and Lucio Fontana. This was also the start of his collaboration with Lucio Fontana, for whom he created ceramic and bronze details for some of his furniture designs. During the 1930s and 1940s, Fabbri worked mainly with ceramics and terra-cotta and progressively developed a technique for riflessatura (reflection), in which the surface of the ceramic is highly reflective despite not necessarily being smooth.

In 1940, Fabbri had his first solo exhibitions at the Gian Ferrari Gallery in Milan, and later, in the early 1940s, he also had solo exhibitions in Bergamo and Savona. But shortly after the Savona exhibition, his artistic career was interrupted by World War II and his participation in the military service.

In 1946, he moved to Milan and started a productive period working with terra-cotta. In 1947, after meeting Picasso in Vallauris, he created a series of important terra-cotta and ceramic works, including Donna del popolo (Lady of the People, the name given by Picasso himself), Uomo colpito (Struck Man), and La madre (The Mother).

Starting in the early 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Fabbri worked much less frequently with ceramic and terra-cotta and focused on bronze and wood. During this time, Fabbri’s work, regardless of its material, achieved a similar and very characteristic surface effect by showing modeling marks and deep cuts in his bronzes and deep cracks on the surfaces of his woodwork.

In 1956, he traveled for three months to China at the invitation of the Chinese government, and his work was greatly influenced by this journey. In 1958, he had his first solo exhibitions in the United States and in Europe, and from then on, he participated in numerous national and international group exhibitions.

In 1981, at age 70, Fabbri started exploring painting, a practice that he would continue to do for the rest of his life. At the beginning, he used the classic oil and acrylic colors, but then he added recycled and recovered materials such as sand, stone, textiles, tin cans, plastic objects, etc.

Although Fabbri did not work much as a product or furniture designer, he partnered with Tecno in 1985 and designed the popular metal bench Nastro di Gala, or Ribbon bench, for Tecno. This contemporary bench design was formed with a highly undulated metal sheet painted in a single color with a glossy, car-like, paint finish.

During his long career, Fabbri also created monumental works for urban environments, such as Caccia al Cinghiale in Milan, Boar Hunting at the Palazzo Sormani in Pistoia, Monument to the Resistance in Savona, and large ceramic bas-reliefs, such as Battaglia (Battle) in the Museum Manlio Trucco of Albisola and La favola di Orfeo (The Tale of Orpheus) in the Polo Tecnologico Libero Grassi of Quarrata in Tuscany.

Last updated: February 6, 2019

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