An Italian artist sold an invisible sculpture for more than £12,000

By Alma Fabiani

Published Jun 6, 2021 at 08:51 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Anything can be art, even nothing. If you thought NFTs were ridiculous, buckle up because you’re in for a wild ride. Italian artist Salvatore Garau just auctioned an invisible sculpture—you read that correctly—for €15,000 (around £12,890). The auction was organised by Art-Rite, one of the rare Italian auction houses that deals with “sessions” dedicated exclusively to contemporary art. According to the Spanish website as.com, the sculpture’s initial price was set between €6,000 and €9,000. However, the price was raised after several bids were placed.

Titled ‘Io Sono’ (Italian for ‘I am’), the 67-year-old artist’s sculpture is “immaterial,” meaning that it does not actually exist. Although he’s received a fair share of critique for the sale, Garau argues that his work of art isn’t “nothing,” but is instead a “vacuum.” Art lingo much?

“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,” Garau said of the statue. “Therefore, it has energy that is condensed and transformed into particles, that is, into us.”

Per Garau’s instructions, the sculpture must be displayed in a private home free from any obstruction, in an area that is about 5 foot-long by 5 foot-wide. Because the piece does not exist, there are no special lighting or climate requirements. Thanks for the extra tip, Garau.

According to Italy 24 News, “Physical, the buyer will find only the guarantee certificate in his hands, which testifies to the archiving of the work and represents the only visual element present in the catalog where, instead of the traditional image of a tangible work, an absolute white space.” Now, tell me, which one is most ridiculous, NFTs or this invisible sculpture?

While this is the first immaterial sculpture Garau has ever sold, it is not the first of its kind he has “created.” In May 2021, Garau displayed another immaterial sculpture titled ‘Buddha in Contemplation’ in the Piazza della Scala in Milan, near the entrance to the Gallerie d’Italia. Garau posted a video of the “statue” to his Instagram page.

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Une publication partagée par Salvatore Garau (@salvatore_garau)

“Now it exists and will remain in this space forever,” reads the video’s subtitles. “You do not see it but it exists. It is made of air and spirit.” A load of hot air, some might say. The sculpture is meant to “activate” the viewer’s imagination, a power that, the artist says in the video, exists within everyone.

“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 forms,” Garau said of his sculptures, according to as.com. “After all, don’t we shape a God we’ve never seen?”

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