Savinio | Past & future tripping at Palazzo Altemps

The museums hadn’t been open even a week, and I booked my annual National Museum Pass. I launched my the art-viewing year at the Palazzo Altemps. After nine or more months of confinement, the prospect of seeing beauty and venturing beyond my immediate “zona” filled my soul. I called on my friend Teresa – a history tour guide –  to join me, and she, too leapt at the opportunity.

We went into the Alberto Savinio show with open minds and sincere curiosity – beyond a sort of hunger for visual nourishment. I hadn’t known of the artist before, but trusted that whatever I found would be a welcome respite from, well, the four walls of my own studio! In the opening text, I learned that Savinio’s brother was the more famous one: Giorgio de Chirico, and already I was intrigued.

The show transported us backwards and forwards in time, in essence suspending time altogether. The beauty of any exhibit at this magnificent historical site, is that the works are interspersed with the museum’s collection of ancient Greek, Roman and even Egyptian sculptures. The curation in this space can be playful and provide often witty pairings at every turn. My companion sprinkled historical anecdotes throughout our chatting, getting current with one another while taking in the ambience.

What struck me about Savinio were his luminous colors and fantastical ‘scapes. He seemed to peer from the 1920s straight into our time, with quasi-fluorescent hues of pink and blue – caught between worlds, even. A series depicting configurations of toys against naturalist backdrops provided an almost eerie, out-of-time sequence. I found myself pleasantly immersed in a surrealistic, yet somehow attainable, atmosphere. These dreamlike paintings were the perfect reflection on our own bizarre times, where all of our worlds are converging within screens and zooms.

The artist was multidimensional: from paintings to drawings to set and costume designs, he expressed a jarring mix of aesthetics. At once he looked backwards and forwards in visual ideas. And while we traversed the Palazzo halls, taking in Savinio’s art along with classical sculpture, we felt as if we were doing the same.

Now with this beautiful museum card in hand, I will be heading to soak in more museum beauty… safely.