Nigro Mario, From Total Space
connected artists

1,953 - 1,954; oil on canvas
cm. 73 x 50
on back: ‘Mario Nigro / Dallo “Spazio totale” / 1953 – 1954’
Inventory: AI00426AFC
Provenance: Corbetta, Ca’ Verza (1962)
Exibition: 1962, Corbetta, n. 43; 2019, Monza, n. 22

Painted between 1953 and 1954 and purchased in 1962 at the 1st Esposizione Ca’ Verza di Corbetta, the painting is one of the first and most successful results of the investigation into the nature of the space of the canvas carried out by Mario Nigro for over ten years. The surface is criss-crossed with superimposed grids of yellow lines forming trapezoidal planes. The artist’s objective was to make the two-dimensional surface accommodate also the third and fourth dimensions of depth and time. In this way, the plane of the canvas is transformed into a total space, a representation of the concept of space-time around which modern astrophysics rotates.


The starting point of Nigro’s artistic investigations was Futurism, in particular the work of Giacomo Balla, which Lucio Fontana was also exploring in the same period through Spatialism. As emerges from his writings, Nigro was also deeply influenced by the work of Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. His Neo-Constructivist abstraction was, however, nourished not only by artistic and scientific interests – it was at this time that investigations into the nature of the universe first became widely known – but also by the ideas derived from listening to dodecaphonic music.


Nigro had joined the Movimento d’Arte Concreta, founded in Milan by Atanasio Soldati, Bruno Munari, Gianni Monnet and Gillo Dorfles, in 1948. The movement called for art to return to its essential elements of line, surface and colour, regarded as concrete since they underpin the syntax of art as a whole. These views placed the artist in the opposite camp with respect to Giulio Turcato, whose decision to opt for non-figurative art was also influenced by considerations of a political nature.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 1/3, pratica no. 879 R/246, 18 May 1962.


Prima mostra d'arte "Ca Verza": pittura nell'arredamento, catalogo della mostra, Corbetta, 11 – 25 marzo 1962, Edizioni Arti grafiche milanesi, Milano, 1962, n. 43, s.p., s. ill.;
Leo Lecci, Mario Nigro, Dallo “Spazio totale”, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 255, pp. 249-250, ill.;
Martina Corgnati, a cura di, con la collaborazione di Lucia Molino, Dal marmo al missile. Capolavori d’arte svelati fra tradizione e innovazione, catalogo della mostra, Monza, Orangerie della Reggia di Monza, 23 maggio - 13 ottobre 2019, Silvana editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo, 2019, n.22, pp. 70-71

Antonella Crippa
Credits © Copyright 2009 by Fondazione Cariplo. Tutti i diritti riservati.
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