Portrait of architect, designer and artist Giovanni Ferrabini

Giovanni Ferrabini

Italian architect, designer and sculptor


“Architecture and sculpture coincide in proposing their respective spacial visions.”

Giovanni Ferrabini

Giovanni Ferrabini (born June 24, 1909, Verona, Italy–died October 2, 1969, near Robilante in the Italian Riviera, Italy) was a modernist architect, designer and artist whose creative output and prominence centered around his prolific career as a sculptor. As a designer, he mostly created furniture made out of metal, glass, and wood bare and diaphanous structures in which metal structures were used as support and are the essence of the aesthetic vocabulary.

Early Art and Architecture Studies

In 1927, Giovanni Ferrabini enrolled to study sculpture at the Accademia Cignaroli di Verona, where he studied sculpture under the guidance of Egidio Girelli, as well as art history, painting and anatomy. During his first year at the Accademia, he proved his outstanding talent and was awarded the first price in sculpture; an achievement that allowed him to enlist directly to the III course skipping all of the interim requirements. Unfortunately, during his last at the Accademia, Giovanni Ferrabini was expelled, along his classmate Guido D. Troiani, after being accused of destroying, apparently by accident, a painting that was exhibited at the school. This charge was later cleared, when Guido D. Troiani made public that Ferrabini had never been involved in the incident.

Sculpture Becomes Ferrabini’s Calling

Once out of the Accademia, and without the stigma of what he had been mistakenly accused of, Giovanni Ferrabini completely immersed in his career as a sculptor. From 1933 until 1937, he exhibits in Verona, Venice, Florence, Capri and Rome and teaches design and art in several institutions. In 1937, he moves to Turin to initiate his studies in architecture at the Politecnico di Torino graduating in architecture in 1939.

Once in Turin, he integrated himself in the art circles of the city and focused his effort towards the creation of sculpture while maintaining different teaching engagements to support himself. After graduating in 1939, Giovanni Ferrabini marries Carla Maggiore, and, in 1940, he starts a long career as an architect at the construction subsidiary of the Fiat Company, a job that he retained until 1959. This job would allow Ferrabini to apply his architectural skills, while also provide him with the monetary flexibility to pursue the sometimes expensive trade of sculpting.

Ferrabini’s sculptural work of the 1940s is descriptive and figurative, and, at times, not quite fully fluent with the vocabulary of the time. But, by the late 1940s and 1950s, his work, specially his bronze sculptures, became increasingly abstract, and, by 1955 his sculptures had become more distilled and simple.

Giovanni Ferrabini Unique Furniture Designs And Approach

It is a this time, in the 1950s, that Giovanni Ferrabini also starts to enjoy the creative rewards that came with designing and making furniture. Most of the furniture pieces designed during the 1950s were specifically made for some of the houses of the industrialist class of Turin at that time, or for some of his contacts in his native Verona. It is important to note that Ferrabini did not pursue furniture making or design as part of an industrial process, but rather as a quasi-sculptural craft that he enjoyed and that resulted in a very limited number of pieces; all of them with a very distinct personality, and the result of an artisanal process that almost always involved iron metal. These are also times in which his career and success as an artist consolidates, receiving important and frequent art requests from art collectors and favorable reviews from the Italian and French press.

Large-Scale Sculptural Works

After leaving his formal engagement with Fiat in 1959, Ferrabini continued to collaborate with the company as a consultant for architectural, design and decorative projects. This greater time and financial flexibility and his ample network in the art and industrial circles of Turin prompted important large-scale projects such as the Il Sole sculpture (1961), the three monumental fountains for the Villa Agnelli (1962), a large bronze public work L’industria dedicated to the Industry of Torino (1963), and a large scale work at a villa in the town of Ospedaletti, in the Italian Riviera, consisting of multiple iron, wood and bronze pieces which he worked from 1967 until his death in a car accident while driving from Ospedaletti to Turin, on October 2, 1969.

Important Solo Art Exhibitions

Although Giovanni Ferrabini exhibited frequently since the start of his studies at the Accademia Cignaroli di Verona, his most important solo exhibitions started from the mid 1950s until his death in 1969, when he had solo exhibitions at some of the most reputable galleries such as Galleria Boutique D’Arte Immeuble Negresco in Nice (1956); Bologna Biennale, Galerie Simone Badinier in Paris, and Palais Des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (1958),  Galleria La Bussola in Turin and Museo Rodin in Paris (1959); Galleria dell’Ariete in Milan, Galleria La bussola in Turin, and the Olivetti Cultural Center in Ivrea (1960); and at Piccadilly Gallery in London and Galerie Simone Badinier in Paris (1961).

Last updated: September 15, 2020

 

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Angelo Dragone

Giovanni Ferrabini 1909-1969

Centro Piemontese Di Studi D’Arte Moderna E Contemporanea

Printed by Stamperia Artistica Nazionale

Turin, Italy (1992)

 

Luigi Carluccio

Ferrabini

Catalogue “La Bussola” Gallery

Turin, Italy (1959)

 

Ugo Pavia

Visite a mostre d’arte

Stampa Sera

Turin, Italy (1959)