Italian Artist Sells Nothing For $16,507.50

Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free

Salvatore Garau is a 67-year-old artist born in Santa Giusta, in the province of Oristano on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, Italy. His 2021 invisible (i.e., nonexistent) sculpture “Io sono” (I am) was sold for $16,507.50 to a private Milanese collector through Art-Rite Auction House.

Garau graduated in 1974 from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze an instructional art academy in Florence, in Tuscany, in central Italy. From 1977 until 1983 he was the drummer for the progressive rock group Stormy Six. The band began in 1966 as a pop/psychedelic rock band, opening for The Rolling Stones on their first Italian tour in 1967.

“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 energy that is condensed and transformed into particles, that is, into us.”

Salvatore Garau

He then became a visual artist. Visual arts are made for observation by an audience that looks at them. They are generally complete prior to the audience encountering them. Visual arts are often contrasted with performing arts, which are performed in front of an audience. The visual arts include two-dimensional and three-dimensional arts, for example, decorative arts, drawing, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. In 2005 he painted an abstract work on a 2,152 square foot sheet of PVC, which was then hung to cover the scaffolding on a building in Corso Magenta in Milan.

For his Ichthys Sacro Stagno (Ichthys is an Ancient and Classical Greek word for “fish -Sacro Stagno translates to a sacred pond) “in Sardinia in 2006, he created large ponds on the floors of three churches in towns in the province of Oristano, which he then populated with fish from nearby ponds.

His work, entitled “I am”, comes with some strict rules about how it’s to be stored and displayed. The buyer of the completely non-existent artwork must keep it in a private house within a five-foot square space that’s free from any obstructions. The buyer will also need to find somewhere to store their certificate of authenticity, which is the only tangible proof that Garau’s work exists.

His next work, “immaterial sculpture” sold for over $18,000 dollars. The “air and spirit” sculpture is intended to be contained in a 5-by-5-foot square and is intended to be displayed in a private space without artificial lighting and climate control. Garau defended his invisible art with a grandiose comparison: “After all, don’t we shape a God we’ve never seen?”

This excitement over nothing is very upsetting to American artist Tom Miller. It turns out that Mr. Miller did, in fact, make a “Sculpture of Nothing, Made from Nothing”, in 2016, which was unveiled to the public in the Bo Diddley Plaza, in Gainesville, Florida in May 2016, and even has a certificate to prove it. Tom was humble enough though to admit that he did gain the inspiration for “Nothing” after watching the brilliant avant-garde composer,

John Cage, who composed the unique piano concerto titled “Four Minutes and Thirty Four Seconds”, during which time “Nothing” is played on the piano. Tom plans to sue Salvatore Garau because he (the Italian) was able to sell what he called the first-ever sculpture of nothing.


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Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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