Thayaht, Vittoria dell’aria (Vittoria alata, 1930-1931)
The metallic sculpture on tubular pedestal entitled Vittoria dell’aria was made by Thayaht in several samples dated between 1930 and 1931. Modern version of a classic subject, the winged Victory was soon presented at important exhibitions, such as the I Quadriennale d’Arte Nazionale in Rome (1931), and the V Triennale (1933), held in Milan’s Palazzo dell’Arte. Today, two small samples belong respectively to the Seeber collection (painted iron and aluminium; 68x14x20 cm) in Rome, and to the Massimo & Sonia Cirulli collection (painted metal; 65.5x60x52.5 cm) in San Lazzaro di Savena, Bologna. There is also a larger version of the artwork, exhibited within the Futurist room (number XIII) at the I Quadriennale under the name of Vittoria alata.
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The winged Victory as an artistic subject has a long-lasting history, as demonstrated by significant examples that include the ancient Winged Victory of Samothrace (200-180 BC) or its modern interpretation by Yves Klein (1962). Under fascism, this theme is a leitmotiv since it intends to represent the political power of the PNF (National Fascist Party) and, at the same time, to amplify its propaganda. It is not a coincidence that the word ‘Vittoria’ recurs several times, both in the fascist nomenclature (the symbol ‘V’, monumento alla Vittoria, Sala della Vittoria) and in the cultural themes promoted by the regime.
During the Ventennio, Lucio Fontana and Arturo Martini are just some of the artists dealing with this topic; besides them, also Thayaht entitles one of his metallic sculptures to Vittoria dell’aria.The subject, here, a flying Victory with unfolded wings, is a clear reference to Futurism and to the Manifesto dell’Aeropittura futurista (1929) from the point of view of the contents and the style.In fact, like in Aeropittura del grande timoniere, this sculpture wants to spread a message about progress, political authority and optimism, implicitly describing the regime as the best governmental option for Italy and the Italians. Moreover, it embodies a twofold nature: it is both the personification of an abstract idea – a woman-shaped figure representing a triumph – but also an incitement for the entire community, an analogy for the coeval society.
To amplify this message and locating it within a comfortable tradition, the artist consciously chooses as a point of reference the Roman Victory’s iconography, usually represented as a woman triumphantly standing on a globe, the Earth. Even if Thayaht’s sample shows a modified and concise version of it – a flying woman with a globe in her linear hands – the intentions seem to be the same. Stylistically, Vittoria dell’aria is a linear and geometrical composition that is fully part of Futurism, being a clean construction of bi-dimensional forms perfectly fitting together. Here the simulation of movement is created through the paradoxically harmonious coexistence of sharpened points and rounded and soft bends. Overall, the sculpture is the result of a meditated process that one can retrace in Thayaht’s previous career, especially in the drawings and sketches representing Ballerino and Angelo (1925), but also Vittoria and Angelo riposante (1929). Once more, one can see here the versatility of the author, capable of expressing himself in the sacred as much as in the profane themes. According to this perspective, Vittoria dell’aria is the most complete result of this meditation, being a simplified, linear variant of a popular profane iconography (the Victory), but at the same time echoing a Christian angel.The immediate circulation of the Vittoria dell’aria, which took part in several exhibitions already in the thirties, confirms the successful results of Thayaht’s work.
Fonti, Daniela (ed.). 2005. Thayaht. Futurista irregolare. Milan: Skira.
Panzetta, Alfonso. 2006. Opere di Thayaht e Ram nel Massimo & Sonia Cirulli Archive di New York. Bologna: XX Secolo.