The art of Claudio Parmiggiani shifts attention from figurative language to the intrinsic content of the work, transposing modes and forms to a metaphysical dimension in which time and things are suspended. In the world depicted by the artist, hovering between realism and abstraction, the skies created towards the mid-1970s, both with and without stars, provide a concrete representation of the idea of the infinite: De Sphaera, 1974; Phisiognomia Coelestis, 1975; La Salita della Memoria, 1976; Ab Olympo, 1977, Le Tableau Ivre, 1978. These works shift the ideal perspective for viewing the heavenly vault from the vertical to the horizontal, presenting the artist’s own cosmogonic vision, fine-tuned by some delicate geometric balances. Ab Olympo, in particular, described by the artist as “an infinite canvas that has come from Olympus”, already indicates in its title (the words can be seen in the courtyard of Casa del Mantegna in Mantua) one of the sources of inspiration behind Parmiggiani’s entire artistic output: classical art. In this work, the suggestions offered by the architectural ideas of the Renaissance artist, from the cylindrical courtyard enclosed within the structure of a square building to the painted vault of the bridal chamber in the Castle of St. George, reveal Parmiggiani’s attentive philological interpretation. In Ab Olympo, the artist inscribes a blue iris, representing a “real” sky, in a ring of blank canvas, veiled by subtle chiaroscuro nuances. It is an oculum oculo, an eye within an eye, which highlights the physical borders of the work, inviting the viewer to make the mental leap from the ordered microcosm of the human-spectator to the macrocosm of the heavenly vault.


  • Title: Ab Olympo
  • Creator: Claudio Parmiggiani
  • Creator Lifespan: 1943
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date: 1997
  • Date of acquisition: 2001
  • Acquisition: Purchase by the author, Vidiana Torrechiara
  • Provenance: GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: All rights reserved, GAM - GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Medium: Tempera on canvas and wood

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