Alberto Savinio and the transfiguration of myths

Alberto Savinio, dipinti

"Atlas", 1927, oil on canvas, private collection

Alberto Savinio (Athens, 1891- Rome, 1952: born Andrea Francesco Alberto de Chirico) was a great “amateur” writer, musician, and painter.

Sicilian author Leonardo Sciascia wrote of him, “’Amateur’ in writing, painting, music, thinking, living. An amateur like Lucian of Samosata. Like Stendhal […] and Savinio’s Stendhalism is rejection of boredom, delight in life, being an amateur.”

Savinio himself revealed that the great French poet André Breton considered him and his brother Giorgio de Chirico the founders of “that art form that later became known as Surrealism.”

Savinio commented such gratifying words – an honor, coming from the leading theoretician of that cultural movement – saying that his Surrealism, “like many of my literary works and paintings can attest, is not happy with just representing what is shapeless and expressing what is unconscious: it strives to give shape to what is shapeless and give conscious to what is unconscious.”

In Savinio’s paintings, the “shape” was often a mythological mask: “It is a great privilege of those born at the feet of the Parthenon – the marble skeleton that has no shadow. We inherit a generator of inner light and two transformer eyes.”

Here is a selection of the works in which he offered us his transfigurative visions of mythological matter.

To find out more about Alberto Savinio’s life and works, visit

July 22, 2016