“The second look”: the human and artistic partnership of manlio amodeo and savina tavano at the casino dei princes of villa torlonia in rome

ROME aise – Two artists poised between Renaissance culture and pop culture, baroque joke and illusionistic clarity told by an extensive retrospective. It opens today, Tuesday 20 September, at Casino dei Principi of Villa Torloniato RomeManlio Amodeo and Savina Tavano. The second look”, An anthological exhibition destined to better focus on two completely unique figures in the panorama of contemporary Italian art among the general public.
The exhibition, curated by Federico Strinati and Claudio Strinati, is promoted by Roma Culture, the Capitoline Superintendence for Cultural Heritage. Museum services of Zètema Progetto Cultura, with the organization of Dialogues telling art, and will be open to the public from 21 September to 30 October.
“A story that has very few comparisons in Italian art of our time”: this is how Claudio Strinati underlines the uniqueness of the human and artistic partnership of Manlio Amodeo and Savina Tavano, in line with the critics who, from 1959 to today, have commented their long career. The opportunity to deepen the knowledge of the two artists is offered by the exhibition set up in the rooms of the Casino dei Principi of Villa Torlonia: his works on the ground floor and those of her on the first floor, exhibited in a single exhibition, but placed in well-divided spaces to emphasize the peculiarity of both. A partnership of life, first of all, and artistic, which the deliberate separation into two exhibition spaces translates to the benefit of the visitor. Two totally different, yet complementary, languages ​​that run on two parallel lines.
“The second look” is the basic concept and the creative cornerstone for both artists, and it is no coincidence that it was chosen by the curators as the title of the exhibition. In fact, it represents a second point of view, a second approach, a deepening of the real and the surreal that cannot be perceived at first glance. In the case of Savina Tavano it is clearly evident in the landscape works where the second deeper glance reveals a world of interiority and almost restless reflection, while for Manlio Amodeo it transcends the real whatever it is and takes us into a dreamlike dimension made up of fascinating architectural fantasies. , zoomorphic and perspective, which at first suggest the eye, and at a second glance take us into a world of lightness and irony between parody and deeper introspection.
History of Manlio, Savina and a star lithographic press
The artistic history of Manlio Amodeo and Savina Tavano can be told as a search path for full expressive freedom. Savina writes: “Life lasts in the last hundred and fifty years for artists […] prodded by a sea of ​​new trends, heavily burdened (despite appearances) by prohibitions and taboos ”. Not at all worried about having to appear modern at all costs, the two artists were able to bring together the fascination for ancient art with countless ideas drawn from the visual culture of the century in which they were born and were formed, the ‘900. Their only, inviolable taboo was that of the “profession”, the perfect mastery of expressive techniques to be achieved at all costs in order to be able to attempt the arduous task of communicating their own personal vision.
Those who have rightly perceived their indestructible connection to the great pictorial tradition of the past will be surprised to learn that, in the memory of Manlio, the passion for painting was born by leafing through a book on American art of the 20th century, with the dazzling discovery of American gothic. by G. Wood, painting by Edward Hopper and illustrations by Norman Rockwell. A discovery followed by the decision to devote himself to advertising posters and enrollment at the school founded by an advertising genius like Armando Testa. The meeting with Savina takes place at the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts in Turin, attended by both in the second half of the 1950s. In 1959 the first exhibition, which Manlio managed to get organized at the San Sebastianello Gallery in Rome, involving two leading figures of the post-war Italian art market, Gaspero del Corso and his wife Irene Brin, owners of the historic Galleria l’Obelisco. On one wall the works of Manlio, on the opposite one the works of Savina: from that moment on it will always be like this. In 1960 they married and took up home in Milan to work as illustrators for the Mondadori publishing house. In 1963 he moved to Florence to go and do the same job for Sansoni. In 1966 they move to Rome, their city of choice, the ideal place where they mature the decision to abandon the applied arts (with the well-paid contracts for publishing, in those years in full expansion) to dedicate themselves exclusively to artistic production.
Deus ex machina of that turning point of capital importance is really a machine: an ancient star lithographic press purchased by Manlio in 1973 and immediately taken to the studio in via della Vetrina, where it becomes the pivot of a decade of experimentation in which the potential of the medium they are the subject of extensive exploration. The result is the development of a laborious printing technique in which the machine is not used to serially re-produce images but to exploit its ability to produce particular completely pictorial chromatic effects. With the name of “lithographic paintings” are in fact presented the precious graphics drawn by the two spouses-artists in very few copies if not as unique pieces. Entirely original prints that become the vehicle, Claudio Strinati writes in the catalog, of “a universe of images capable of linking pop and Renaissance culture, baroque joke and enlightenment clarity”.
The lithographic painting season ends in 1985 with an exhibition at Palazzo Borghese that tells the story and with the return to painting.
The discovery of the Maremma countryside, the other crucial meeting in the human and artistic life of Manlio and, above all, of Savina, also dates back to the 1980s. Today the two artists, still in full swing, live and work in the studio in Tuscany.
Manlio Amodeo (works from 1955 to 2018)
“I have seen so many images and I have enclosed them in the warehouse of my unconscious”, explains Manlio Amodeo with simplicity, who draws from that warehouse to create, through painting, fantastic worlds and characters. The exhibition curated by Federico and Claudio Strinati traces in detail the results of his torrential creativity, from the beginnings (1954-1959), to the happy season of lithographic painting – the precious graphics produced with an ancient lithographic press – to the most recent production.
All the visionary obsessions that characterize his art will be seen, arranged in small sections: the Hybrids, zoomorphic creatures that revisit late medieval iconography; the Impossible Houses, impossible characters in impossible places framed within impossible perspectives; the various series which, with painstaking skill, represent the variations of light over the course of 24 hours or at least account for the passage of time in the worlds invented by the artist; the explorations of the unconscious told as a tourist trip to the frontiers of being and finally the recent interest in the theme of the labyrinth and the myths connected to it.
Savina Tavano (works from 1954 to 2018)
If Manlio’s painting proceeds over the years with orderly stylistic continuity, that of Savina, aimed at representing the real world in a completely personal way, has a first and a second time. In the first, especially through the lithographic painting technique, his gaze focuses on Rome, represented in the contrast between the noble vestiges of its sensational past and the objects of modern daily life. A dialogue between apparent oppositions, orchestrated taking into account the lessons of pop art and hyperrealism. The register changes radically after accessing a new visual horizon, that of the Maremma countryside. Savina creates landscapes drawing inspiration from those seen in early Renaissance painting. To restore the vital thrill, the incessant vibration that pervades nature, he adopts a laborious pointillist technique.
The portraits
In the portraits made on commission by both Manlio and Savina, the art of the two different twins of Italian contemporary painting finds a point of consonance. Of high executive quality, both in the representation of the subjects depicted and in that of the Renaissance-style background pieces, the portraits are also notable for a rare capacity for introspection. (aise)

“The second look”: the human and artistic partnership of manlio amodeo and savina tavano at the casino dei princes of villa torlonia in rome