(b. 1919, Venice; d. 2006, Venice)
The third of seven children, Emilio Vedova was born in Venice in 1919 to a family of artisans. Primarily a self-taught artist with a penchant for drawing, Vedova participated in the Milanese anti-Facist artist group Corrente in 1942, towards the end of the association’s active years.
Between 1943 and 1945, Vedova was active in the Italian resistance movement, painting his experiences which were later exhibited throughout Italy. The following year, in post-war Italy, he became a founding member of the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti (New Art Front) in Venice. Meanwhile in Milan, Vedova collaborated with artist Ennio Morlotti on the manifesto Oltre Guernica (Beyond Guernica), which pushed for artists to leave behind figurative and socialist painting. During this time, his paintings became increasingly abstracted and resulted in his series of works described as “Geometrie nere“ (Black Geometries)—black and white slashes of paint that expressed, through abstraction, the anguish and anxiety that was felt from the War.
In 1951, Vedova was given his first solo exhibition in New York at Catherine Viviano Gallery. By this time, abstraction in Vedova’s works were seemingly comparable to his French and American counterparts, yet within his works remained the spirit of revolution carried through in the essence of his energetic, sensuous strokes. The following two decades saw Vedova participating in various exhibitions across Europe and lecturing extensively in the United States, which resulted in further progression taking place in his artistic explorations. Perhaps most notable was his installation created for the Italian Pavilion at the 1967 Montreal Exposition in which Vedova projected sheaths of colour through fragments of Murano glass, complemented with experimental music, creating an environment that broke free of the boundaries between image and sensation.
Throughout his career, Vedova actively experimented with new methods and display formats in his sculptures and paintings. From mobile pieces made on steel rails, to glass engravings, monotypes and circular panels, leading to various exhibitions and awards acknowledging his contributions to Abstract Expressionism and Italian art, such as the Cavaliere di Gran Croce della Repubblica Italiana (1996) and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale (1997). Vedova continued to create new works and experiments until his death in 2006 at the age of 87.