Antonio Calderara

A Light Without Shadow




Curated by Elio Schenini

Antonio Calderara (1903-1978), an original, but reclusive figure in the Italian artistic milieu, is often compared to Giorgio Morandi. He began his career as a self-taught artist in the 1920s after abandoning his engineering studies at Milan’s Polytechnic Institute. In the decades that followed, his painting, with its sculptural simplifications and a luminosity reminiscent of Piero della Francesca and Seurat, further distinguished itself by a stylised intimism that approached Magic Realism. A turning point came with his 1959 transition to Abstract Art, relatively unique in Italy due to its radicality, but perfectly in line with the contemporary art of Europe with its tendency towards minimalism in painting.

However, geometry never manifested itself with rigidity in his art. Instead, his artwork was dominated by delicate and subtle vibrations of light obtained through the superimposition of thin layers of paint. In his works from the 1960s and 1970s, almost always on a small scale, a ‘light/colour’ emerges which translates his aspiration to “paint the null, the void, which is everything, silence, light, order, harmony. The infinite”.

This first large-scale Calderara retrospective in Switzerland since the 1969 exhibition curated by Jean Christophe Ammann at Lucerne’s Kunstmuseum begins with work from his figurative period before transitioning into the various phases which distinguish his abstract output. In addition, the exhibition includes a large selection of works from the artist’s private collection, amassed through a series of exchanges with other artists with whom he was linked by friendship or mutual respect, including Josef Albers, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Yves Klein, Dadamaino, François Morellet, Jan Schoonhoven, Max Bill and Gianni Colombo.

Antonio Calderara. A Light Without Shadows (in Italian and English) is published by Skira. The catalogue presents colour photographs of the works on exhibit, critical texts by Elio Schenini, Hans Rudolf Reust, Paola Bacuzzi and Eraldo Misserini and an introductory text by Marco Franciolli, the Director of the Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana.

  • LAC venue

  • Piazza Bernardino Luini 6, 6900 Lugano


A. Calderara (IT/EN)


Curated by Elio Schenini
2016 MASI Lugano
Italian/English edition
Ed. Skira
336 pp.
ISBN 978-88-572-3421-2