Giuseppe Uncini

1929 (Fabriano) - 2008 (Trevi)

In 1947–1948 Uncini studied at the Istituto d’Arte in Urbino and came to Rome in 1953, which at that time, alongside Milan, was the most important Italian centre of art to explore international trends, and where he got to know the leading exponents of Italian Art Informel. However, Uncini neither joined this movement nor did he see his intentions reflected in Minimal Art. Geometric form always has a special status in his work, his works were to have no meaning besides pure form and presence. This focus on geometric form runs through the artist’s entire oeuvre like a red thread.

In 1962 he joined forces with Gastone Biggi, Nicola Carrino, Achille Pace and Pasquale Santoro in Rome to found the Gruppo Uno with the aim of overcoming Art Informel by means of geometric forms and object-based work concepts. The group’s particular interest was in the relationship of art and science and, in addition to traditional materials, they also experimented with optical effects. In the final years of their cooperation the artists focused their studies on the relationship between space and environment. Their final notable appearance was at the Venice Biennale in 1966, before disbanding the group in 1977. In 1961–1983 he was a lecturer at the Istituto d’Arte in Rome. In 1989 Uncini’s works were on show at the Venice Biennale.

Giuseppe Uncini developed a completely new and independent oeuvre within the change from representation as a depiction of reality to the autonomy of colours and objects since the Constructivists, the successive departure from the image that took place in the 1960s, influenced among others by Lucio Fontana, but also Action Art, happenings and audience participation. Always working at the interface of drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture, he sought to liberate his work from the weight of the material as much as from any genuine individuality. By incorporating scientific knowledge, the significance of light, observing shadow and discovering emptiness as an integral part of sculpture or architecture, he created an awareness of the interplay of the possible and the impossible. Because science cannot control our perceptive ability, Uncini’s spaces may be defined both physically and conceptually. Essentially he did not want to represent or convey any ideas but rather create constructed works that have no meaning and which are intended to make an impression purely by dint of their appearance.

Moreover, Giuseppe Uncini was the first sculptor to explore the aspect of shadow as a sculptural problem. In his work it became a sign of a space that exists and, at the same time, does not exist, an illusory space, a virtual space that can only be made visible by materialising it. In 1988 the artist was awarded the “Premio Antonio Feltrinelli per la Scultura” by the Accademia Nazionale die Lincei in Rome and in 1995 he received the “Premio Presidente della Republica” from the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome. This important Italian sculptor was undoubtedly regarded as a pioneer of a new form of sculpture thanks to his use of new materials, that contrasts with classical sculpture.