The 70s and’80s

the essential-synaesthesic period

Omaggio a Dioniso

During the visionary sculpture cycle, the young Santini also started to sculpt with the noble stone par excellence, Carrara marble. The themes may not seem to be in any way connected. They represent, however, his entire artistic career that is still thriving today in a still more refined way. These pieces, made from the early 70s to the 80s, have one thing in common. They all stand as individual pieces in time, unconsciously “feeling an echo” which is then taken up again and artistically re-elaborated in the future. This is apparent in the different themes sculpted, the materials used and the various techniques applied.

A series of sculptures belonging to those years are no bigger than 40 cm high and can be defined, as the artist suggests, “essential sculptures”. Essential sculptures since, Santini explained, I took up these themes and shapes again and re-elaborated them in my sculpture. These influences can still be seen today, even if the most important thing in my work over those ten years was that I was driven by my instincts, by an inner need that materialized in the final work.

Simposio di Carrara, 1979

We can see how some of these sculptures: Iris, Io e te (me and you), Donna di Cuori (the Woman of Hearts), La cognatina (my dear sister-in-law) and others, legitimately became preparatory sculptures for the monuments and pieces of urban landscape that were subsequently made, chiselled directly from blocks of marble, in the early 80s.

Io e Te
Gli amanti
Donna di cuori
La Cognatina

Each sculpture of the essential sculptures cycle has its own reason for being, its own journey through the inner soul and its own research in time of the artist’s “here and now”. Examples are: Cutrettola, a bird found in rivers and streams also known as a Ballerina; Canneto, a sculpture in a coil which recalls Santini’s childhood, as when he came out of the house he could see many bamboo plants in front of him, like a hedge which mostly precludes a glance at the last horizon; Passaggio n.1, in Belgian Black and Siena yellow, that comes from the observation of the sunlight reflected on the water at sunset, almost as if to indicate a door to pass to another life.

Every work made in this period has its own life. It is a thought, an emotion, a feeling that takes shape and form from the flow of consciousness and the impulses of the heart expressing its own real feeling and its own way of living life.


In addition to the cycle of essential sculptures, in the mid-70s Santini made a series of erotic sculptures based on the formal research of the essence of erotic thought, which neither underestimates nor scorns one of the five senses, touch. On the contrary, as he explained in front of the work entitled Under cover it is actually by touching the sculpture that one has the full perception of the work of art, as first one looks, scrutinises and then touches. One has to touch in order to relate to this kind of sculpture. It is by touching, having physical contact with the sculpture, that one can be inspired with an emotion that sight alone may not inspire. Santini’s erotic sculptures are to be touched, not only seen, and sight and touch complement one another so that the observer can fully appreciate the work.

The idea that the sculptures can and must be touched led the artist, many years later, to create a series of works for the blind engraved with poetry in braille, such as Ed è subito sera by Salvatore Quasimodo. A homage by Santini to humanity and sufferance through poetry and sculpture and a heartfelt dedication to all those who cannot see yet who manage to relate to the world through touch.

Under Cover

The ten years from the 70s to the 80s is a significant and experimental period for the sculptor Santini. This is when he achieved superior technical quality and meticulously perfected his formal language: a combination that led him to take part in his first sculpture symposium. This was precisely in July ’79, in the town of Carrara, famous throughout the world for its marble. On this occasion for the first time, he made a visionary sculpture entitled Omaggio a Dioniso (homage to Dionysus) in Carrara White marble. The following year, again at the Sculpture Symposium in the town of Carrara, he sculpted Leda e il cigno (Leda and the Swan), one of his erotic sculptures. Then, in ’84 at the Sculpture Symposium in Digne, France, he sculpted Donna di cuori (Woman of hearts), a work which takes up the cycle of essential sculptures once more.

Omaggio a Dioniso (part.)
Leda e il cigno

Each work made in this decade represents a mood, an experience, a journey into the inner soul of the emotion that was sculpted in the stone, almost an eternal return of the matter and its thought on the time line.