contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the Month / October 2023

Antonella Sacconi

Pigment inkjet printing (Giclée) on Canson Baryta paper
40 cm x 60 cm
Edition 1/30

Antonella Sacconi’s black and white photo “Fans” shows a fan-shaped arrangement of panels, widening towards the top. Hence, the title. In grey tones, with black shades the boards ascend from the left bottom to the right top edge of the image. They contrast with the white background. Though, there is a light incident on every plank at the right top. On the very right of the picture, the fans seem to be reversed. The single boards are now black with white edges and open to the bottom. By the play of light, the depiction has a three-dimensional effect. At the same time, it has graphic qualities, underlined by the shades of grey, the contrasts and the degree of abstraction. Thus, the material of the panels stays unclear. It might be wood, concrete, or perhaps metal. Moreover, the function of the arrangement remains concealed.

To figure out, what is on display, we need to have a look at Antonella’s artistic work. Beside landscapes, she photographs architecture. Hereby, she selects special characteristics of buildings and features them depending on material or form. One result was her second solo exhibition in 2016: “Antonella Sacconi. Nude Forme. Geometrie dell’architettura contemporanea” at the Eff&Ci, Milan. “Fans” was part of the exhibition, where the artist exposed her perspective on worldwide contemporary architecture. Despite the isolation of striking elements, some are easily to identify, for example the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Others are more difficult, depending on if the bystander knows the constructions or not.

In the present photo, Antonella captured a section of the exterior of the AV Mediopadana railway station, 4 km north of the town Reggio Emilia, Italy. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, inaugurated in June 2013, it is composed by 457 rectangular, white painted steel arcs. These elements are shifted diagonally against each other and the spaces in between are filled with glass panes. So, they form vaults, which are looking like waves with a height around 20 metres and at a length of 483 metres (not exceeding 50 metres width). This wavy structure is best recognisable from far away or from above using a drone.

However, Antonella took her photo from a relatively short distance and from the bottom of the building. In consequence, we see only a small section. The artist has chosen this perspective to underline the fans character of the construction and the position of a close viewer. Herewith, she introduces a human point of view, as a train passenger might see the train station from the outside approaching it. This is another point in Antonella’s oeuvre: regarding architecture as an artwork made for the daily life of human beings. At the same time, she features the graphic disposition of the pure form and the three-dimensionality of the structure.


Antonella Sacconi

Born in 1961 in Messina, Antonella Sacconi lived in her childhood in different cities of Italy. She graduated in Greek archelogy in Florenz. Subsequently, she published a book about the archeologic adventure of Francesco Morosini in Athens, 1687-1688. Here she describes the circumstances of the Venetian war against the Ottoman Empire, which guided to the partly destruction of the Parthenon at the Acropolis of Athens. These studies and her knowledge of the ancient world guided her to become teacher for Italian and Latin. Moreover, this influences her artistic oeuvre.

Since her infancy, Antonella has a passion for photography. In the second half of the 1970s, she started to take pictures with her first analogue camera, an Olympus OM2. Afterwards she experimented with different techniques of photo development. However, she didn’t want to stop there and studied the renown Italian photographers. In particular, the works by Mario Giacomelli are still affecting her oeuvre. He depicted mostly people and landscapes. Antonella started by photographing landscapes and in these images, allusions to Giacomelli are obvious. Additionally, Giacomelli uses – among other stylistic means – strong contrasts and courageous cropping, which contributed to the graphic character of his pictures. Both instruments are also used in many of Antonella’s works and she transferred them to her passionate portrays of architecture. A good example is “Fans” from 2014. Here the chosen picture section is a close-up from the AV Mediopadana railway station in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Moreover, the cutout shows a big contrast between the white sky and the architectural structure. Underlined by the black and white gradient, the graphic approach is evident. “Fans” is our Artwork of the Month / October 2023.

Antonella’s orientation to architecture photography is not surprising, having in view her passion for ancient constructions which lead her to archaeological studies. Besides the influence of Mario Giacomelli, the graphic character of her photos might be aroused by the knowledge of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s etchings, with whom she would have become familiar during her studies. And in fact, the picture “Capricci (alla Piranesi)”, The Vessel, New York from 2019 reminds the famous artist. Also in other images allusions are visible. Moreover, the knowledge of classical shapes leads her to highlight forms, lines, and three-dimensionality. However, the artist does not circle around ancient buildings, but points on contemporary architecture, perhaps because it is often free from decoration and uses the geometric elements in a pure state.

Another passion may be on help: Antonella loves to travel. This enables her to visit renown contemporary constructions and to take them in focus, for example the Millenium Park in Chicago, the Market Hall in Rotterdam and the Bundestag in Berlin. In doing so, the human perception is important to her. For this purpose, the viewing angle is individual like a person visiting the place closely. This allows to concentrate on special characteristics of the targeted building, to emphasise the aesthetic value of the structure and include the human being as creator and contemplator. Herewith, she invents her own artistic oeuvre.

Due to her participation for the international award “Wiki loves Monuments Italia” (2014) where she arrived at the fourth position, some of her photos were published in the catalogue of the agency Alidem. In 2016, she had her first two solo exhibitions: at the Caffè letterario delle Giubbe Rosse, Florence and Casa di Vetro, Milan. In particular with the second show “Nude Forme. Geometrie dell’architettura contemporanea” started her career as photographer of contemporary architecture. Since then, she participated regularly in the MIA Fair, Milan with SpazioFarini6. The same gallery took her pictures to fairs in Parma, Paris and Lugano. Antonella’s photo “Spicchi di Luna” was published in the BNL Curator’s Guide and in the Marie Claire Maison. Additionally, it was presented at Milan’s Design Week and during the Venice Architecture Biennale in an installation by Paola Lenti (all 2018). Since 2021, she is part of the artists of the General Public Art Gallery, Los Angelos. Her project “Homo Faber” was presented in double personal exhibition at the Galleria B4, Bologna in 2022 and in 2023 Link Studio Arte from Bologna took her once again to the MIA Fair in Milan.

Antonella lives and works in Milan.