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Piero Dorazio
Urania, 1965

Oil on canvas
197 x 148 cm

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Photo: Oscar Giacomini


The Italian painter, graphic artist, sculptor, lecturer and editor Piero Dorazio was one of the leading representatives of abstraction and a pioneer of concrete colour painting in Italy. Although he first studied architecture, after World War II he gravitated to painting. Following an initial phase under the influence of Socialist Realism, he developed his own style in an intensive reflection on the avant-garde and in exchange with the abstractionist currents of his time. In 1947 he was one of the signatories of the Manifesto del Formalismo and a co-founder of Forma 1, an artists’ group that formed to oppose Socialist Realism and provincialism in Italian art, and that pressed for the spreading of abstract art.


Right from the outset Dorazio’s interest was directed to optical mechanisms that can be produced by light and colour. Liberated from their symbolic connotations, in his works light and colour became elements that actually create structure and space, and are the veritable foundations of spatial values. Dorazio’s characteristic grammar of forms consists of strokes, lines, fields, patches and surfaces that overlap, intertwine or join together as ornamental structures. Primary and also at times secondary colours, as well as contrasting complementary colours, governed his palette.


In the 1960s he produced his first compositions built up from coloured stripes. The painting Urania from 1965 is one of the artist's works that employ a relatively simple structure. Set against a monochrome blue background, a coarse grid of coloured stripes covering virtually the whole picture surface has been done in a mixture of cold and warm colours ranging from orange to turquoise blue. Just one red stripe breaks with the orthogonal arrangement and rises up at a diagonal from the middle of the lower picture margin to the upper right-hand corner. The interplay between primary, secondary and complementary colours produces a brilliance that is heightened by a number of stripes in white. Verticals and horizontals cross in luminous transparency and through their optical motion forwards and backwards suggest a spatiality of indeterminable depth.


Piero Dorazio

1927 born in Rome

2005 died in Perugia