Savinio, Alberto (Athens 1891 – Rome 1952).
    He was born in Athens; his parents were Italian. Andrea de Chirico, who was later to take the name Alberto Savinio, before devoting himself to painting was involved with music and literature, two activities that, besides being fundamental to his artistic education, cannot be separated from his activity as a painter. In fact, besides being a painter, Savinio continued to be a writer and musician.
    He spent his childhood in Greece and then, after his father’s death in 1905, he moved with his mother and brother Giorgio to Munich. In 1909 he was in Milan where, according to his brother, Savinio devoted himself to painting and drawing. In 1910 he went to Paris where he came into contact with the intellectuals centred around Apollinaire.
    He began his career as a writer with Les chants de la Mi-Mort, while he made his debut as a painter only in 1927 with a show at the Bernheim gallery in Paris, where he at once sold eighteen paintings. His involvement with painting, however, had begun a lot earlier: in Ferrara in 1916 he had met Carrà and De Pisis and, from 1918 to 1925, he was one of the main theoreticians of Metaphysical art with his fundamental essays published by the “Valori Plastici” magazine. In 1919 he went to Rome and, in about the end of the 1920s he was once again in Paris where he came into contact with the Surrealist milieu.
    It was in this period - from 1927, the year of his first show, to about 1930 – that Savinio, who had gained a wide market in Paris, painted a large amount of pictures. It was then that he came to know the critic Waldermar George with whom he established a profitable cultural relationship. At the end of 1929 he worked with his brother on the decoration of the house of the dealer and collector Rosenberg, his contribution being a room with monuments to toys.
    In the 1930s he began to exhibit frequently in Italy and abroad, and he began to take part in the Venice Biennale and the Quadriennale in Rome. In these years, even though formally influenced by his brother Giorgio, Savinio gave more importance to symbolic, evocative, and literary content, while at a technical level he was distinguished by more filamentous brushstrokes and the use of a more veiled chiaroscuro, at times with iridescent characteristics. As he became closer to the Surrealists, above all Max Ernst, his paintings became populated by mutant and imaginary beings, half man and half toy; they became progressively enriched with an more overt irony and a visionary capacity that has a parallel in William Blake (Ragghianti) and that was, in any case, the outcome of an uneasy spirit fed by a polymorphous culture and by different experiences and contaminations.
    In 1940 he exhibited in Milan at the Galleria Il Milione and, in later years, mainly devoted himself to graphic art. In fact, his solo show at the Galleria dello Zodiaco, Rome, in 1943 was of drawings, as was his show at the Galleria della Margherita in 1945. In 1954 the Biennale organised a retrospective show of his work with a catalogue essay by Libero De Libero.
    In 1952 he directed and designed the sets and costumes for Rossini’s Armida at the Maggio Musical in Florence. As a journalist he collaborated with various newspapers and magazines; as a musician he composed the ballets Perseo, La morte di Niobe, and Ballata delle stagioni. He left a great many works as a writer: essays, autobiographical memories, and novels, many of which were inspired by the art world; among them mention should be made of the fascinating Narrate uomini la vostra storia, 1942.

    Andrea Zanella in La pittura in Italia. Il Novecento (1900-1945), Milan, 1997.