Vogue house. Alberto Savinio’s seaside villa

Angelica Savinio he left us on March 18, 2020. With his Gallery the Sign, in Via di Capo le Case in Rome, for 50 years he has written and told a beautiful piece of history of contemporary art. With art, she immediately found herself being a daughter of Alberto Savinio (then Giorgio de Chirico was his uncle) and with a brother, Ruggero, who is a painter by profession. Casa Vogue met her in 2005 when she opened the family archive for the magazine to tell the story of the holiday home in Versilia – a home that Alberto Savinio loved particularly. And since the coincidences never come by chance, that house refers us to the very particular figure of its designer Enrico Galassi, The “outlaw artist” who passed away in 1980, to whom Ravenna his hometown had just dedicated an exhibition. Between pandemics and opening dates, it is likely that you will not be able to see it, but take a tour on the net and you will discover a truly unique artist. (Paolo Lavezzari)

Savinio house. Poveromo. Massa Carrara.

Savinio house

© Angelica Savinio

At the entrance of the road that branches off from via del Poveromo – we are in Versilia, Tuscany – there is a gray card with the writing “Savinio” in block letters, attached to the fence net. The road, covered with pine needles, goes into the dense Mediterranean scrub. “The hurricane of August 1977”, recalls Angelica, daughter of Alberto Savinio, «He felled all the old trees, which I then had to replant, and the small house, but the large one did not suffer. The woods are beautiful again ». The house is right at the bottom; already at the first glance, it is clear why Alberto loved her so much and so often wrote about it.

The white building, covered with reddish tiles, is half-hidden by a rectangular grainy lime wall, a scroll-shaped curtain, which can be read up close as an S – initial of the artist’s name – or, a stylized violin key , perhaps a tribute to his history as a musician. Savinio had described his beach house «A nut of sugar … my white bride … on one floor laid on the ground like a white crab on the sand», and from those rooms he didn’t even move to go to the beach.

Savinio house

© The Mitchell Wolfson Jr. collection-C. Colombo Regional Foundation, Genoa

The shape is rather similar to a snail, created by grafting a rectangular body with a long curvilinear room, which joins the serpentine wall. This characteristic element wraps itself around the oak tree to the west and, to the east, hides a courtyard, repeating the concept of the Hispanic patio. In the rectangle of the house there are the bedrooms and the bathroom, while the kitchen starts the large curved lounge which, without another partition wall, houses the dining area and the living room-study, completed by a fireplace framed by red bricks and the floor. furrowed by rows of black tiles: a magical space that bathes in light as soon as the many French windows on the courtyard open wide.

Author of this house is Enrico Galassi (Ravenna, 1907 – Pisa, 1980), rather than an architect, a painter who excelled in the applied arts, who became friends with Savinio in the 1930s. Savinio claimed that he was an architect “Brilliant that creates the home of man from his internal needs, machine builder, inventor, Leonardo’s man”.
The artist from Ravenna at that time (1932) had bought a plot of pine forest in the Poveromo, and planned to build a village with his own and other villas for artists. In the area, at Forte dei Marmi, the houses of Carra, soft is De Grada. So they were born Casa Prezzolini (later Vallecchi), Kechler Ferrari is Savinio house, together with the pink house on pilotis in the garden of the Villa Irene guesthouse, where Walter Benjamin stayed for a few months.

Savinio house

© Angelica Savinio

Galassi had grown up at his father’s school where every type of decoration and restoration was practiced. Graduated in painting, and well integrated in the artistic environment, he made his debut in ’31 at the Milanese gallery Il Milione, and began traveling and contacts abroad, especially in Paris. When he built his home-studio in Versilia in ’34, it was reviewed favorably on Domus. These are the years of development of the rationalism and industrial design, by Le Corbusier, of Gropius and the Bauhaus, Alvar Aalto is Frank Lloyd Wright. And Galassi perceives and reworks elaborately the signs of renewal that came from the great European schools and teachers.

Casa Savinio therefore grows in the respect for the surrounding nature, an open and continuous form that fits into the space of the forest, and this animated green world enters the house, allows itself to be embraced by its walls. Precisely in consonance with the new theories of Le Corbusier. When Galassi and Savinio make friends, the latter was experimenting with the techniques of decorative painting, called to intervene on public buildings, according to the taste of fascism, and Galassi had opened a mosaic workshop in via Margutta, where also Giorgio de Chirico (Savinio’s brother) would have drawn beautiful cartoons. Angelica and his brother Ruggero, also an affirmed painter, remember him of the stays in the house at the Poveromo in the fifties.

“Once upon a time there was sand around the house and the uncle’s car once sank with the wheels. He went down quietly and asked our mother for a soup spoon to be able to shovel it away ».

The fond memories of a lifetime are still kept in the house of the sea, even after seventy years, even if first the bombings and thieves and then the cyclones have blurred and altered the original lines and furnishings. Galassi had designed the lights and every piece of furniture: tables, chairs, desks, bookcases, chests of drawers, almost all made of light cherry. Few pieces that are still there, such as the table with interlocking corners, or the terracotta stove. “And the black drawings of the living room floor, on which a bomb fell, just where my father painted”.

Savinio house

© Angelica Savinio

There is no longer the foot lamp, burned by lightning that broke through the wall and went there to be discharged, nor the beautiful globes hanging from the ceiling. The majestic copper water heater and the are gone from the bathroom «Magnificent catarrino marble slabs» described by Savinio, who covered the walls “Almost in human height”.
“I enter the functional bathroom (we are in ’49, editor’s note). The bath tub is white and empty. The black eye of the exhaust looks at me “.
Always ironicAlberto wrote in this way about the difficulty that vacationers had in saying to live in a place with a name that alludes to poverty: “If they ask me where I spend the summer, I calmly answer: I pass it to the Poveromo. But not everyone can hold such a meaningful name, and many say instead that the house has it in the Ronchi family “.

Savinio house

© Angelica Savinio

For children and grandchildren, the spiral house behind the sinuous wall is still the favorite place for holidays, as Birolli wrote: “A physical place of solitude and vegetation, a limbo that presents itself with the charm of peace and refreshment, which seems to be that of a lost joy and childhood, a moment of happiness in which distant memories relive”. And to save it from the threat of the terraced houses that are springing up around it, they created the association of the Friends of Ronchi and Poveromo. Although Galassi, restless spirit in need of novelty, never completed the village he dreamed of, today at Poveromo families of artists, scholars and intellectuals have their home, who find here every summer still a little intactwonderful imagery that are the charm of Savinio’s canvases.

Savinio house

© Angelica Savinio

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