Gianni Colombo

Posted in Artists

Gianni Colombo (Milan, 1937 - Melzo, 1993) produced his first artworks – paintings, sculptures, ceramics – in 1955. He studied at the Academy of Brera, where he attended the courses of painting held by Achille Funi and Pompeo Borra. He shared his first studio on via Montegrappa in Milan with Davide Boriani and Gabriele Devecchi, and eventually moved to a studio next to the one of his brother Joe. He experimented different materials and languages, from ceramic to graphics, from photography to cinema. Under the influence of Lucio Fontana he produced mixed material artworks and monochrome relief made of wadding that were exhibited in 1959 at the gallery Azimut in Milan, which was a collaboration project of Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani, Giovanni Anceschi, Davide Boriani, and Gabriele Devecchi. In the same year Colombo founded Gruppo T with Giovanni Anceschi, Davide Boriani, and Gabriele Devecchi. He participated to the exhibitions “Arte programmata”, and to the establishment and the exhibitions of the international movement New Tendencies.

In 1963 Gianni Colombo was invited with many other kinetic and programmed artists, to the Fourth International Biennial of San Marino “Oltre l’informale”. In 1964 he participated to the last exhibition of the group exhibition of Gruppo T, “Miriorama 14” at Studio F in Ulm. From that year on Colombo’s privileged remit of esthetic action was the environmental space, designed as a place for active solicitation of perceptual, sensorial and behavioral events that directly involve the audience. Colombo created environments that can be inhabited and practiced, moving from neutral and abstract spaces (where the audience is immersed in kinetic events based on light) to eventually become spaces connected with architectural design.

Their aim was to make the audience rethink the concept of space by modifying the perception of the environment, as a highlight of the fragility of all ideas based on routine. In 1967 Colombo presented at the exhibition “Trigon ‘67” in Graz the environment “Spazio elastico”, conceived in 1966 and awarded with the first prize at the 36th Art Biennial in Venice in 1968. In 1968 he designed Borgotondo, a thematic park for children in Mirandola, with the collaboration of Emilio Tadini and Gianfranco Pardi. The same year he was appointed professor at the Academy NABA in Milan, and dean in 1985. In 1992 he presented his last work at the environmental scale “Spazio diagoniometrico” at galerie Hoffmann in Friedberg. The environment was designed through large cones three meters high moved by electrical motors. The imposing volumes of the cones over the audience was strictly connected with the somatic effects of the artwork “Grande oggetto pneumatico” by Gruppo T (1960).