Thirtythird episode of the program “Pralines. Deliciousness from the world of art” by Ly thi Thanh Thao and Sergio Mandelli dedicated to Franco Costalonga.
Franco Costalonga is born in Venice in 1933.
His childhood is marked by the fact that he lives in the caretaker’s house of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia. This awakens in him a lively interest in cultivating a strong bond with art and with “the Library of the Venetians”.
After working odd jobs, Costalonga dedicates himself to restoring old prints, antique books as well as paintings.
Most importantly, he is appointed to safeguard the original writings of Rainer Maria Rilke at Duino Castle.
Burri’s work exerts a great influence on Costalonga’s artistic creation and drives him to work on a variety of experiments dealing with non-traditional materials.
His art making initially ventures towards a kind of lyrical abstraction. The famous painter, Leone Minassian, legitimately sustains that Costalonga’s art is suspended between Wols’ and Licini’s.
Together with his friend Mariano Capuzzo he opens a furniture design studio. At the beginning of the sixties, an armchair of his won first prize in a contest held at the Fair of Padua.
This success opens up new channels to forge a new activity that keeps him engaged for long periods, but above all, entices him to explore the use of modern materials.
In particular he realizes works composed of methacrylate hemispheres which are considered to be one of his trademarks; these art pieces were showcased for the first time in 1967 at the Numero Gallery of Fiamma Vigo.
In the same year, he enters into contact with Armando Nizzi of the Sincron Gallery in Brescia, which proves to be the defining moment in his artistic career.
This gallery, taking inspiration from an idea embedded in Russian Constructivism, aims to spread art not only to a limited number of collectors but, above all, among the masses.
To obtain this aim, artists are requested to create “objects with aesthetic function”, according to the definition of Bruno Munari, collaborator of the gallery.
Costalonga realizes a sphere with a diameter of thirty centimeters that contains a sculpture created by modeling a heated PVC sheet.
But it’s the encounter with Munari that gives him a kind of illumination.
His idea of composition, henceforth, lays foundation on the Kinetic Art and on the use of a recurring single basic element.
In Costalonga’s case, the Kinetic Art is shown through the employment of hemispheres with a reflecting surface on the inside. When placed in different compositions, they can always generate new visual effects.
His art further finds its major fulfillment through the discovery of a particularity: putting a colorful cylinder at the center of the hemisphere and looking at it vertically, we can notice that its image spreads over the whole surface.
Consequently the “Chromokinetic” object is born.
The recurrence of this base element gives rise to the development of infinite variations of works of art, including sculptures.
One of these works, in 1969, became part of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
The “cylinder” works ultimately evolve into those entitled “Gradients of luminosity”; in this series, cutting the top of each cylinder at forty five degrees, that will be colored afterwards, and arranging them according to new planes, the artist can obtain various compositions, each appraised from different standpoints.
Costalonga goes on producing the “Riflex” works, in which blades that reflect light are employed.
For fifty years, Franco Costalonga has been one of the major exponents of the Kinetic Art, to which he dedicates himself with a flaming passion. He untiringly explores new ways to bring to light the core idea of his art making: art is a continued discovery of new worlds!