Ludovico De Luigi

Ludovico De Luigi (b. 11 Nov 1933) is a contemporary Italian painter and sculptor, born and living in Venice. He is regarded as one of the most original and influential artists of his generation. 

Known for his surreal and visionary artworks that explore the history, culture and identity of his city; he has created, paintings, sculptures, performances and installations; that reflect his personal and artistic vision of Venice.

De Luigi has been described as a “visionary artist”, who combines in his works; tradition and innovation, realism and fantasy, past and future. He speaks of today using yesterday’s language and speaks of yesterday using today’s language.

Alongside themes of Vedutism (view painting) and entomology, he has depicted threats which menace Venice – flood water, pollution, technology and consumerism. Venice is represented in surreal visions: catastrophic, sensual or decadent, using oil paint and later in the digital age, computer techniques.

A prolific writer and poet, he has published several books and essays on art, literature and philosophy.


Ludovico de Luigi - Venetian artist and sculptor

Ludovico De Luigi in a local cafe. 


Ludovico De Luigi – Biography

Ludovico De Luigi was born in Venice on November 11, 1933, to a family of painters sensitive to cultural issues and the influence of modern art.

A spatialist painter, is an artist who belongs to the spatialism movement; which was founded by Lucio Fontana in Italy in the late 1940s. Spatialism is an art movement that explores the use of space, movement, light, and color in painting, sculpture, and architecture. Spatialism, is considered a precursor of minimalism and conceptual art.

His natural vocation for art, however, developed in various stages. His initial training was in the studio of his father Mario, a famous abstract painter, but he left in 1950, to travel the world; settling down in different places, such as Turin, Rome, France and the United States.

During these years he passionately devoted himself to drawing and copying the Old Masters in the “verduto” style; but still gradually developing a personal visual language. He also became very interested in the natural sciences, particularly entomology; traces of which would later appear in his work.

Verdutism is a style of painting that depicts realistic views of cities, landscapes, or other scenes, usually with a high level of detail and accuracy. The term comes from the Italian word “veduta”, which means “view”. Vedutism originated in the Netherlands in the late 17th century, and became popular in Italy in the 18th century, especially in Venice. Some of the most famous vedutists were Canaletto, Bellotto, Guardi, and Piranesi. Vedutism was often influenced by the demand of tourists and travelers, who wanted to have a visual record of the places they visited; or to learn about them from afar. They sometimes used a device called a camera obscura, which projected an inverted image of reality onto a surface, to help them capture the perspective and proportions of the scene. Vedutism also gave rise to a subgenre called “capriccio”, which involved imaginary or fantastical elements in the composition.

“Parnassius Apollo Macaon” 1970. Oil on canvas.


In the spring of 1959, De Luigi started an in-depth study of Canaletto’s work at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica at Palazzo Corsini, Rome and quickly assimilated the great Venetian artist’s skill in merging technique and expression. His studies culminated in a copy of a painting of St. Mark’s Square on view in Palazzo Corsini.

De Luigi’s first exhibition was in 1965 with his one-man show at the Gallery “Il Canale” in Venice which included two large works of views of a decaying and monumental Venice, invaded by waves of insects and fantastical beings. His work demonstrated De Luigi’s extraordinary virtuosity and served as the starting point for a thorough investigation of artistic techniques, that would intensify from 1966 onwards.

In 1967, along with his wife, the American painter Janice Lefton, De Luigi travelled to the United States; where he also held an exhibition at the Drake Gallery in Chicago.

Upon meeting with the gallery owner Luciano Ravagnan in 1968, De Luigi’s exhibition activity increased in Venice and abroad. There were to be exhibitions in Trieste, Milan, New York, Munich, Monte Carlo, Paris and beginning in 1975, in many German cities.

Encouraged by his private and public success, he continued to carry out his artistic research. He combined traditional, time-honoured subjects and techniques with surrealist re-elaborations, envisioning apocalyptic scenarios taking place in the city of Venice, (such as; high tide flooding, pollution, consumerism, the advent of technology and the commercialisation of the city).

He described his developing painting style as “Svedutist“; to differentiate his work from “Vedutism“. He was an interpreter of the world-wide anxiety for this unique city which art described; directing the parameters of view painting towards an introspective vision. Thus, overturning an exterior view, into an internal one, whilst conserving the external elements. Moving from a pictorial illusion of reality, to the very “soul” of Venice.

In 1978, he realised his first important performance – “Colleoni Surf” at the Palazzo Grassi’s theatre. In 1979, he set up a series of exhibitions in Spain, Mexico in 1981 and later in Brazil.

In 1984, he put on a substantial show in the ward of Palazzo dei Diamanti of Ferrara and in 1986, he attended the 42° Biennale of Art in Venice, entitled “Art and Science” with the staging of “Teatrum Filosoficum“.

Ludovico de Luigi - Venetian artist and sculptor

“Polaris, Venice”. 2002. Oil on canvas


During the 1980s, he was drawn towards sculpture and made a series of large-scale equestrian works in bronze; loaded with symbolic and allegorical meaning. They were inspired by the famous “Triumphal Quadriga” of St Mark’s Basilica.

The original horses are displayed in the interior of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. They were moved there in 1982 for conservation purposes, after being exposed to pollution and weathering for centuries on the facade of the basilica. The replicas of the original horses are placed on the loggia above the porch of St Mark’s Basilica, where the originals used to be. They were made by the Venetian sculptor Ludovico De Luigi in 1977.)

For the 1990 Venice Carnival, he created a huge chocolate horse of the same dimensions and in 1999, he sculpted one in Murano glass. As of 2004, two of the horses were installed in the lobby of the Adam’s Mark hotel in Saint Louis, USA.

His last anthological exhibition was set up in 2013 by the Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa of Venice.

In his career De Luigi has become involved in friendship with known figures, such as Peggy Guggenheim, Federico Fellini, Oscar Niemeyer, Stanley Kubrick,

His work belongs to many private and public collections. He currently lives and works in Venice’s Cannaregio district.

Ludovico de Luigi - Venetian painter and sculptor

“Notturno del Carnevale”. 2000. Oil on canvas 


Particularly renowned works of Ludovico De Luigi are:

  • Venice in the Third Millennium (1968): A series of paintings that depict a futuristic and surreal vision of Venice, with elements of science fiction, fantasy, and satire. The paintings show Venice as a decaying and monumental city, invaded by waves of insects, fantastical beings, and technological devices. (The series was exhibited at the Ravagnan Gallery of Modern Art  in Venice).
  • Colleoni Surf (1978): A performance art that involved a life-size replica of the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, a Venetian “condottiero”, mounted on a surfboard and towed by a motorboat along the Grand Canal. The performance was a provocative and ironic commentary on the relationship between art and history, as well as a tribute to the Venetian tradition of water festivals. (The performance was staged at the Palazzo Grassi’s theatre in Venice.)
  • The Horses of San Marco. Created in the 1980s-1990s, they were a series of sculptures that reinterpret the famous Triumphal Quadriga of St Mark’s Basilica, a set of four bronze horses that symbolise the power and glory of Venice. De Luigi created several versions of the horses in different materials and sizes, such as bronze, chocolate, and Murano glass. The bronze horses are displayed in various public spaces around the world. They are displayed in various public spaces in Marseille, France; St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Perth, Australia and Bolzano, Italy.

The replicas of the original horses are placed on the loggia above the porch of St Mark’s Basilica, where the originals used to be. The original horses are now displayed in the interior of St Mark’s Basilica. They were moved there in 1982, for conservation purposes. 


San Marco II – Ludovico De Luigi.  1986 / Bronze / H 9 ft. Location: One Financial Place Plaza, 440 S. LaSalle St Chicago. USA.

De Luigi conveyed a sense of motion by capturing the horse in mid-stride. The animal’s musculature is emphasized by deeply incised lines, implying great power and virility. By adding idealised characteristics, the artist illustrates the historic association of horses with strength and progress.


This exhibition invitation above, incorporates one of a small series of self-portraits termed “Autoritratto 1980”. Oil on canvas. His last anthological exhibition (31 Oct 2013 – 01 Dec 2013) was set up in 2013 by the Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa of Venice.

My self-portraits are nothing more than the shadow of my dreams, sometimes nightmares, sometimes languid views of my subconscious“. Ludovico De Luigi.  

A chance encounter…..

During Xmas 2010, my wife and I, were in Venice for the week. We were walking along the St Barnaba Canal in the Dorsoduro district and I was photographing the wonderful reflections on the water’s surface, which were often a feature of this busy canal.

A gentleman passing by stopped to talk to us, interested in what I was photographing. He told us that he was an artist and invited us into his home and studio close-by. His name was Ludovico De Luigi and it was an unforgettable experience for us both. His studio-home was crammed with artworks, desirable objects and books – such a living/working place, we had never experienced before.

I asked him if he had a book available of his life and art, to which he replied “go to the Ravagnan Gallery in Piazza di San Marco tomorrow and I will have a signed copy ready to collect”. Later, reading this wonderful book, I learned that reflections in the waters of Venice, were of such importance to him, that he could not envisage his life without them!

We will always remember this chance meeting of this fascinating and hugely talented man of great warmth and generous spirit.











Ludovico De Luigi.  ” Viaggiatore dell’Arte”.  2002.  Publisher, Edizione Galleria Ravagnan.


LINKS (internal external)

From my series “Depicting Venice in Art” 

Depicting Venice – Patrick Hughes”

“Depicting Venice – Clare Caulfield”

From my series “Foreign Artists working in Venice”

“Turner in Venice”

“Whistler in Venice”

“Monet in Venice”

“John Ruskin – Writer and Artist”

From my series ” Art – Music – Literature”

“The Venetian School of Art”     

“Venetian Artists-18th Century (Introduction)“        Together with 14 posts on the most important artists of that wonderful era.

Tempera Painting on Wooden Panels”

“Peggy Guggenheim – Images and Quotes”

“Quotes about Venice”

Ravagnan Gallery | Art Gallery in Piazza S. Marco, Venice     Specializing in modern and contemporary art. Ludovico’s representative agent in Venice.

You Tube Video about him: Copy and paste in your browser.


Ludovico De Luigi    Ludovico De Luigi     Ludovico De Luigi


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