Tano Festa was born in Rome on 2 November 1938.
Brother of Francesco Lo Savio, he attended the Art Institute in Rome and graduated in the Art Photography course in 1957.
It is based on the example of C. Twombly and of gestural and informal painting.
It will not be long before this date that already in 1960 is grappling with his first exhibition, a collective exhibition at Liverani’s Ascent in Rome.
In those years the meetings had already taken place: Festa had been a friend of Franco Angeli since the late 1950s, while Francesco Lo Savio was a friend of Mario Schifano.
Fundamental to his career is the participation with Schifano, Baj and Rotella in the exhibition entitled “The New Realism” in New York at the invitation of Sidney Janis.
That same year, in 1960 the Odyssia Gallery organized an exhibition of the “new generation in Italy” in New York with Francesco Arcangeli, Valsecchi and Argan.
Among the many artists present in that American exhibition we find: Bendini, Dorazio, Guerreschi, Perilli, Pomodoro, Scanavino and others.
Only a couple of years before (1958) Milan had hosted “the new American painting” at the Contemporary Art Pavilion.
They were the beginning of “effervescent” years, years in which Rome seemed to be the city that, better than the others, knew how to interact with the new international artistic inspiration, especially with the USA.
The so-called “School of Piazza del Popolo” before obtaining this name with right, had to wait until 1963, the year in which the Galleria La Tartaruga moved to the aforementioned square, becoming the center of the coagulation of Roman effervescences.
On that occasion the gallery owner Plinio De Martiis organized an exhibition that he saw lined up in the walls of the new exhibition space: Angeli, Bignardi, Festa, Fioroni, Kounellis, Mambor, Mauri, Novelli, Perilli, Rotella, Saul, Tacchi and Twombly; the title of the exhibition was “13 artists in Rome”.
It is the period of the Objects of Tano Festa, of construction, better than the use of objects extrapolated from the usual context.
In 1964 the first Venice Biennale arrives, where one of his “Persiane”, clearly inspired by Metaphysics and New Dada, is exhibited (for the first time).
The choice of the subject is deeply intertwined with the artist’s personal story: the previous year, in fact, Francesco Lo Savio, the elder brother of Tano Festa, had sought death in a hotel in Marseille. His death, felt as tragic and heroic, radically changes the art of Tano Festa who, influenced by a melancholy, almost crepuscular, way of seeing objects around him, underlines the metaphysical value of the objects that mark the boundary of our mortality : not surprisingly Festa reconstructs in wood above all “thresholds”.
In the same early 60s, Tano Festa focuses on the masters of the Italian and Renaissance traditions, in particular the Michelangelo della Sistina and the Medici Chapels; intervenes with color on photographs or repaints enamel images projected on the canvas, interpreting them as advertising icons. They are often revived, iterated, in a new disorienting dimension of vaguely surreal climate, but with an immediate suggestion of reading.
In New York he began work on the “Heavens”, a cycle completed in Italy and presented in Milan in the exhibition The Planetarium in 1966.
In 1966, Milan dedicated an important exhibition to the fiftieth anniversary of Dadaism (1916-1966); Festa was among the invited young painters, and the visual contact with Arp and Man Ray was certainly of extreme significance.
In 1967, Festa exhibited at Arte in Italia 1960-77 ‘in Turin. He inserts again famous icons taken from the history of art in geometric squares or flat-colored masks, without any ironic component, let us think of the modern representations of his “Michelangelo”.
In 1970, Tano Festa married Emilia Emo Capodilista, with whom he had two daughters; the marriage will break after three years.
The early 1970s will see objects transformed into paintings of objects.
Of those years they are the photographic report of a series of squares taken from photos of the Alinari, followed by reproductions of works from the past up to the “periodization” of fragments of the Sistine Chapel; the photographic report was made both on paper and on canvas in collaboration with the Studio of Mimmo Capone.
Participates in two important exhibitions “Vitality of the negative” (synthesis of Italian art from the ’60s to the’ 70s) and “Contemporanea” (international historical panorama from ’55 to ’73), curated by Achille Bonito Oliva.
From 1978 onwards silence descends on Tano Festa, although present in the Biennials and in the most important events, the artist is almost forgotten.
Constant commitment and continuous research led him to develop new themes and new languages.
Thus, in the early 1980s, Tano Festa will reach the famous Coriandoli which will be a sort of abandonment of the past.
With these works he gives a twist to his poetics, somehow breaks with the images of the past to awaken a visionary creation rich in creative vitality, fantasized and always theorized freedom with which it reaches a sublime purity.
Tano Festa reconquers critical attention and recognition in this period.
In 1984 Tano Festa is invited to the Venice Biennale.
His magic stops on January 9, 1988 due to his death.
In 1989, one year after his death, the monumental “Window on the Sea” was inaugurated, visible on the seafront of Villa Margi, between Palermo and Messina, designed by Tano Festa in memory of his brother Francesco Lo Savio.