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Italian artist sells 'non-existent' sculpture for $18,000

The original price of the unreal artwork was set somewhere between 6,000-9,000 euros, the price saw a steep rise once several bids started pouring in.

June 04, 2021 / 01:05 PM IST
A man captures an artwork in New York. (File image) REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

A man captures an artwork in New York. (File image) REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz


When it comes to art, Henry David Thoreau once famously said, “It's not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see that's important”. But what do you do when there is nothing to see?

That is what Italian artist Salvatore Garau envisioned, as he auctioned his ‘invisible sculpture’ for almost $18,300 or 15,000 euros at the Italian art house, Art-Rite. This ‘immaterial’ piece of sculpture art, titled Lo Sono, which means I am, literally does not exist! The only material proof of this artwork that the buyer, who has not been identified yet, will receive is a certificate of authentication, signed and stamped by Salvatore Garau as proof of its originality. 

But that’s not how Garau, the 67-year old artist sees this. According to him, the non-existent sculpt is not actually intangible, because it has the power to activate the imagination of those who watch it, an ability that each and every individual has. 

Per his statement with the Italian outlet Diario AS, he visualized this sculpture as void. “The vacuum is nothing more than a space full of energy, and even if we empty it and there is nothing left, according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, that 'nothing' has a weight…Therefore, it has an energy that is condensed and transformed into particles, that is, into us”, he said. 

What's more, there are even specific instructions as to how you can display this ethereal artwork! As per the artist, the exhibit must be set out in a private home, in an area about 5 ft. long and 5 ft. wide. The display zone should be obstruction-free, but since the piece does not really exist, there are no definite lighting or climate prerequisites. 

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While the original price of the unreal artwork was set somewhere between 6,000-9,000 euros, the price saw a steep rise once several bids started pouring in, taking the final amount up to 18,000 euros. While it might be a small amount in the artist community, it has immense ramifications, considering the amount was paid for something that does not literally exist!

The sculpture is in keeping with Garuo’s previous artwork “Buddha in Contemplation”, which, he claimed, was constructed of “air and spirit” and was displayed at the Piazza Della Scala in Milan, Italy. 

"When I decide to 'exhibit' an immaterial sculpture in a given space, that space will concentrate a certain amount and density of thoughts at a precise point, creating a sculpture that, from my title, will only take the most varied form. After all, don't we shape a God we've never seen?” he said. 
Ira Puranik
first published: Jun 4, 2021 11:51 am

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