Museum of Salvatore Fancello

Painter // Sculptor // Ceramist // Dorgali 1916 - 1941

Opening hours and info

Jul – Aug – Sep |  9,30-12,30 e 17,30-19,30
Remaining months | On request

Ticket cost: Free

Museum Manager: Spanu Emanueluccia 
At Municipio COMUNE DI DORGALI - Corso Umberto, 37 - 08022 Dorgali


1916. Salvatore Fancello was born in Dorgali on May 8th,, he was the son of Pietro Fancello and Rosaria Cucca, the penultimate of twelve children, belonging to a farming family in poor economic conditions. Since his youth, he shows remarkable drawing skills.

1927. After finishing the primary school, he attends a Vocational School in Dorgali.


    1929. After obtaining the GCE Advanced level, he works as an apprentice in the ceramics workshop and tannery of the artisan Ciriaco Piras in Dorgali. This way, he can try his manual skills and starts to experiment with clay.

    1930-32. He takes part in a competition, organised by the Council for Corporate Economy of Nuoro, and wins a scholarship for the courses of the Higher Institute for Artistic Industries (ISIA) of Monza, run by Guido Balsamo Stella. On October 28th, he leaves from Olbia together with Giovanni Pintori from Tresnuraghes, who also received a scholarship. Once in Monza, he lives in a boarding school nearby the school in Villa Reale. After attending the preliminary course, he enters the ceramics section, showing professors and colleagues quick learning skills and extraordinary drawing and modelling abilities, obtaining sympathy and praise. In 1931, he and Giovanni Pintori become friends with Costantino Nivola from Orani, who arrived to Monza with a scholarship. Karl Walter Posern is the Professor of Glazing techniques, while Virgilio Ferraresso is the Professor of Construction techniques. Together with the other Professors there were also Ugo Zovetti, Arturo Martini, Pio Semeghini, Raffaele De Grada. Sometimes Marco, who works in the Finance Police in South Italy, goes to visit his brother Fancello. Meanwhile in ISIA, the new Headmaster Elio Palazzo operates a revision of scholastic programs and substitutes Arturo Martini with Marino Marini, gives the teaching post of Graphic Design to Marcello Nizzoli, and Art History, Critics, Constructions, Descriptions and Lectures to famous exponents of Rationalist Culture and Architecture: Edoardo Persico, Giuseppe Pagano, Agnoldomenico Pica, Giovanni Romano, Pietro Reina and Raffaello Giolli.

    1933-35. Fancello starts to draw the Bestiario on terracotta. In summer 1933, he exhibits two of his works at the IV Sardinian Inter-provincial Exhibition on Fine Arts in Cagliari. In 1934, he graduates as Art Head. He starts to attend Virgilio Ferraresso’s workshop in Padua, testing with the master new materials, as a result of relevant researches at national level. He returns to Monza for the two-year advanced training course, with Umberto Zimelli as Professor of Composition. Fancello’s works, marked by the management as one of the best results of ISIA’s production, are exhibited in the permanent exhibition of school works and are used for illustrating the leaflets. In summer 1935, he exhibits at the IV Union-Trade Exhibition in Nuoro. In Dorgali he attends Simeone Lai’s ceramics workshop. He graduates in Monza as Master of Arts. In the V Craft and Small-scale Industry Exhibition of Cagliari, Fancello wins a purchase prize thanks to a terracotta wild boar. In autumn, while he is guest of his Professor Virgilio Ferraresso in Padua, he realises a wide corpus of ceramics, applying all suggestions given by his Master and improving even more glazing techniques (the majority of his works were lost during wartime). He collaborates with Zvetteremich and Nivola (the installation reports three signatures) at the creation of plaster sculptures of animalistic subjects exhibited at the Mostra della Montagnana in Turin.

    1936. Fancello participates to the VI Exhibition of the Triennale at the Palazzo dell’arte di Milano with a wide graffiti wall of colonial subject, twelve ceramic tiles for every month and star sign of the year, a mosaic of lithe-ceramic tiles (signed with Nivola), vases and several showpieces. The star signs get the Gran Premio of the Triennale. Fancello’s activity, sustained by Giuseppe Pagano, is noticed by the critics. The artist moves together with Nivola and Pintori to Milan, where they are surrounded by the Rationalist Culture.

    1937. Fancello expand his friendship to the painter Saul Steinberg, the poets Raffaele Carrieri and Leonardo Sinisgalli, the ceramist Tullio d’Albisola, the employee of the Ministry of National Education, Giulio Carlo Argan, and Giulio Rosi, who works for the Superintendency for Antiquities of Turin (the last two buy some of Fancello’s sculptures). He works for the Textile Exhibition in Rome (ceramic bas-relief and graffiti), he realises geometric shape installations and angel statues, borrowed from the contemporary Nativities for Olivetti’s shop in Milan, together with Pintori and Nivola, who have been employed by the promotion and advertising office of Casa di Ivrea. In December he’s called to arms.

    1938. During the military service Fancello meets Cesare Brandi, Fine Arts Superintendent in Rodi. In summer, he was on furlough in Milan, but in bad economic conditions. He draws with passion, so make their appearance the works on teletype paper rolls. Giulia Veronesi write an article about him on the magazine Corrente. He draws cartoons for the humorous weekly magazine Il Settebello. The pieces, realised for the Triennale in 1936, are illustrated in the volume Arte decorativa italiana by Giuseppe Pagano (Milano, Hoepli). He goes to work to Albisola Marina to Mazzotti’s famous ceramics workshop, where Fancello gets in contact with several artist (from Martini to the Futurist Group, Sassu and Lucio Fontana), realising more than a hundred pieces of high technical level and deep maturity: Bestiario in coloured majolica, plates and vases decorated with a golden glow and metallic colours, two copies of the Nativity (exhibited in 1940 in Turin, in 1942 in Milan, and a part of it in Brooklyn Museum in 1950). Fancello’s and Fontana’s work in Albisola Marina is recorded by Giovanni Pintori’s camera. Due to Racial Laws, Costantino Nivola and his wife have to emigrate in USA and Fancello enters into correspondence with Renata, Ruth Guggenheim’s sister.

    1939. Fancello is called to arms for the second time and he is moved from Ivrea to Susa Molaretto.

    1940. In March he is on furlough in Milan where he meets Pintori. Ho works for the VII Triennale. Here, he exhibits together with Leoncillo Leonardi and wins a diploma of honour: Sinisgalli appreciates the work of the two ceramists. Fancello realises ceramic decorations for the dining hall and the flagpole of the University “Luigi Bocconi” on behalf of Giuseppe Pagano. The pieces, which were realised in the furnaces Ilsa in Albisola, are located in Milan the following year thanks to the money sent by the same artist from the war front (the only survivor is a big panel representing sporting activities). He creates a corpus of graffiti drawings with women nudes and constellations as subjects. He starts new plastic researches, that have remained on sketch stage.

    1941. At the beginning of January, Fancello is called back to the regiment in Ivrea. At the end of the month, he leaves from Bari to the Albanian front. The last letter to his relatives is dated February 20th. Fancello dies in Bregu Rapit on March 12th. He was buried in the War Cemetery. In 1942, the Arts Action Centre sets up in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan a tribute exhibition to the artist with sculpture, ceramics and drawings coming from Argan, Labò, Mazzotti, Mussolini, Pagano, Palanti, Pintori, Podestà collections (catalogue edited by Gruppo Editoriale Domus). In 1947, the Silver Medal of Military Valour is bestowed to the memory of Fancello. In 1954, Salvatore Fancello’s sister asks for the repatriation of mortal remains. In 1962, the urn is buried in the cemetery of Dorgali.

    (cited from Crespi A., Salvatore Fancello, Ilisso Edizioni, Nuoro 2005)

    Salvatore Fancello

    Alberto Crespi - Nuoro 2005 - Ilisso Edizioni

    (Photos and images courtesy of Ilisso Edizioni)

    Cooperativa Ghivine del G.r.a. – Dorgali (Nu)
    +39 338 8341618
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    Giuseppe Pisanu

    Educational services:
    Maria Grazia Corrias