National Museum of Women in the Arts
Alba Savoi
December 25 1929 - present
Photograph of Alba Savoi, 1995, courtesy of the artist
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
AHL-bah sah-VOY
Work Type/Media:
Books and manuscripts, Painting, Textiles and clothing
Artistic Role(s):
Book Artist, Calligrapher, Interior Designer, Miniaturist, Painter, Textile Artist
Artist's Biography:
Alba Savoi is one of the liveliest and most consistent protagonists of Italian experimentation in the bookworks area. In the 1970s, she stopped painting and symbolically “liberated” the canvas. Released from its covering epidermis of colors, the textile material was revealed in its whiteness and celebrated in its autonomous physical properties, demonstrating in cadenced folds its elasticity, or lapsing into soft stripes created by means of parallel cuts. It was a kind of rebellion by textile against the subordinate role to which it had been condemned both by the brushstrokes and by its being rigidly stretched on the frame. Little by little the folds became wrinkles. Assuming a linearity and horizontality, they were transformed into mute tactile writings, readable from both sides. Thus the canvas became a page, and the canvas page was organized in groups that could be turned over, thereby giving rise to books.

Next came thin lines which, traced on the textile, simulated—with "trompe l’oeil" on it—the empty lines of an exercise book. But on the lines ran cuts, again giving rise to stripes, which shriveled into curls. In the name of phenomenology, and the curve, here was a silent declaration of poetic intent, a symbolic break with the linear logic of systems. From there to the conquest of technological media and to the use of paper was a short step. With gradual xerographic enlargements of the textile fold, the sequentiality of the sheets on a graduated measure created a perspective spatiality in the book. Thus “xerowritings” were born. The subsequent passage to colored photocopies was the “autre” reacquisition of chromatic-pictorial values, now mediated by the tools of today and no longer presented on the wall, but within the book.

In the end the book changed form and status, to become a kind of multiple envelope, as in the work Flowers of the Sea (Baudelaire’s “Flower of Evil” Fiore del Male, with a play of words only possible in the Italian language, which converts the poem into Fiore del Mare, flowers of the sea). The work with this title revisits not so much the French poet as the ancient shelter of the feminine secret, the envelope, which is here transformed into a confidant, in its oblique, and again graduated, slots of shade.

Biography by Mirella Bentivoglio, courtesy of Alba Savoi

Place(s) of Residence:
Where Trained/Schools:
Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome, Italy (1976 - ca. 1978) Scuola di Grafica Pubblicitaria Nuova Italia, Rome, Italy (1960-1964)
Related Visual Artists:
friend of Mirella Bentivoglio friend of Elisabetta Gut
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Earliest exhibition:
Gallieria Il Muro di Roma, Fortezza Medicea, Siena, Italy (1977)
Artist retrospective(s):
Palazzo dei Priori, Perugia, Italy (1995) Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, Gubbio, Italy (1992) Galleria Sala 1, Rome, Italy (1986)