A pioneer in Italian art and design, Nanda Vigo was an important figure whose versatility spanned six decades and affected generations of artists. With over 400 solo and group exhibitions, she was an icon of 20th-century Italian culture.

Vigo, who was born in Milan on November 14, 1936, has stated that she had an emotional bond with art as young as seven years old when she saw how light altered the appearance of Giuseppe Terragni’s Casa del Fascio in Como. She studied architecture at the Institute Polytech in Lausanne and then worked in San Francisco as an apprentice.

Rather than depending on pre-existing manufacturing formulae, Vigo goes out of her way to embrace exploration, with a strong desire to explore the unknown. Her ever-changing practice included performance, installations, and occurrences, all which were essential to her creative oeuvre, working in tandem with architecture practice led her to design. Her distinct art approach is inspired by and embraces her spatial work, embracing the intangible effects of light and reflection. The Chronotops, the very first specimens of that which date back to the early 1960s, reflect her pioneering work in this field.

1. The Chronotops | Nanda Vigo

The Chronotops are structures made of ribbed glass and aluminium that catch and release focused impressions of light through their transparency.

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Diaframma Ponteur tubes with printed glass and neon lights_©Emilio Tremolada

In 1959, she began visiting Lucio Fontana’s atelier, where she became further involved with the Zero Movement, for which she finally constructed the “Zero Home,” a house with frosted glass walls and bright neon lights inside that transformed the perspective of space.

The installations that attempted to “withhold light” and convert it into the matter are Nanda Vigo’s most renowned works. Her acclaimed 1964 “Chronotopic Manifesto” stated the thesis that modifying illumination and fostering sensory involvement for users of the environment itself and items may transform space.

2. Light Progressions

Soon she created another masterpiece also known as light progression. People moving in and around chronotopes activate them, infusing non-programmable motion in endless combinations; reflecting surfaces and lights generate sensations independent of formal aspects: “a directed reflection can provide an image that the physical eye takes in ready to be sent to the mind and remembered, but image-less luminescence can reach memory more and induce physical well-being, as well.”

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Light Progressions_©Omaggio a Fontana

3. Golden Gate

Vigo went on to develop lamps, expanding on her love with light; her Golden Gate Floor Lamp, 1969–70, was one of Italy’s first halogen lamps.

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Golden Gate Floor Lamp_©Ugo Mulas

4. Light Project

The light is considered as an elementary power and divine as well as the symbolic significance of the human in process. Despite the difficult route that a human person must take, the most essential hero of the “Light Project” – the first retrospective devoted to Nanda Vigo by an Italian institution – is, thus, light.

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Neverended light and Galactica sky_©Palazzo Reale
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Arch/arcology_©Palazzo Reale

5. Fur Staircase | Nanda Vigo

Nanda Vigo created the interiors, which include this luxurious spiral staircase with a complementing fur-clad sofa set, textured, white surfaces, and glass walls that divide the area — the ideal, tranquil environment for Meneguzzo’s large art collection. While this is at the far end of the scale of the experimental interior, this unconventional design’s success in the Lovers poll is a welcome acknowledgment of the idea that houses don’t have to be all about functionality – though it’s difficult to identify any disadvantage to a comfortable descending the stairs.

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“Casa sotto la foglia”_©Gio Ponti

6. Spatial Stimulators

Since about the 1970s, Nanda Vigo has been making mirror-pyramids known as “Spatial Stimulators,” devices capable of drawing space, accompanying architecture, and the spectator to create a multidimensional and dematerialized perception of reality.

Trigger of spaces_©Gall. Vinciana
Trigger of spaces_©Gall. Vinciana

7. Exoteric Gate

This exhibition of concepts is the first in a survey of the language used before the formal idiom embodied in the inhabitable chronotropic (spatiotemporal) spaces created from 1962 to the present day. This structure was based on her exoteric journey she took through Algeria, Egypt, the Sahara, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Guatemala, Yucatán, and Mexico from 1972-1976 was planned in stages to enable her to study the meaning of her (pre-arranged) research. This trilogy takes place over three levels: the real, unreal, and transcendent. The “exoteric journey” is unreal (through cosmic dreaming), while the real concerns behavioral language and transcendence has a formal explication through reflective surfaces. The three levels are complementary to each other, and it is impossible to determine the exact moment when the unreal becomes real to take on the transcendent appearance of illusion.

Exoteric Gate, Statale Milano_©Valentino Albinia
Exoteric Gate, Statale Milano_©Valentino Albinia

8. H&S 

Hard & Soft is a creation by artist Nanda Vigo that was created particularly for Luca Preti’s exhibition hall in Milan. In celebration of Fuorisalone 2019, the exhibition has been altered with interventions that play on the contrast amongst mirrored surfaces (Hard element) and fluffy Mongolian Fur components (Soft component). The existence of the illumination element decreased in blue, the primary hue of Buddhist philosophy enhancing the contrast.

H&S mirror 1_©M.Tedeschi
H&S mirror 1_©M.Tedeschi
H&S Table_©M. Tedeschi
H&S Table_©M. Tedeschi

9. Sun-Ra Collection

The SUN – RA lamps, crafted by Nanda Vigo, manufactured by JCP Universe, have a strong sense of identity that is poised with both art and design; they are the ideal synthesis of Nanda Vigo’s career, which focused around the seek for the intervention between light and space, where the design becomes more than an object, but becomes an artwork.

Sun-Ra Collection_©Mattia Iotti
Sun-Ra Collection_©Mattia Iotti

10. Utopia Lamp | Nanda Vigo

Nanda Vigo’s experimental works make use of cutting-edge materials to produce new and unusual shapes. The Utopia table lamp blends creative and design methods to investigate the relationship between light and space.

Utopia lamp_©Nicholas kilner
Utopia lamp_©Nicholas kilner

These sculptures and designs are the epitome of linearity and essentiality; and their beauty serves as a function also to generating light.

Nanda Vigo’s works are more than a retro-futuristic architectural setting. It is a conviction in moving beyond the constructed reality’s edifices. Each element in her works represented autonomous thinking of its own, free of human meddling, free of its position in space, free of its own identity. Everything dwells in darkness, but the light is what gives everything life.


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