Pino Pascali, Vedova Blu (1968)

There is nothing like an early death to fuse an artist’s biography and work in the minds of his audience. Here is Pino Pascali, beside one of his best known works, inseparable.

Common sense tells us that a motorcycle crash should not affect the worth of the Italian sculptor’s art. Yet it does, and this fact even seems to tell us something about the function of art.

Pascali himself spoke of his sculptures as tombs. Since his death in 1968 they are what indeed survive him. We have photographs and footage too, but the art is more vital.

But solemnity has gone out the window along with marble and bronze. Along with other artists from the arte povera movement, Pascali rejected traditional materials.

In light of his death, the gesture says: you can’t take it with you. This fur-covered spider has outlived every Italian Prime Minister of the 1960s. Bet you can’t name any of them.

Vedova Blu was created in a spirit of play, mind you. It is not very threatening, not even real, only the name suggests this Blue Widow is deadly. And this photo, of course, of a man at one with his own memorial.

Work can be seen in ‘…a multitude of soap bubbles which explode from time to time…’: Pino Pascali’s final works 1967-1968. This show is at Camden Arts Centre until May 1 2011.

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