Vedova was born in Venice into a working-class family. His artisan roots came from his house painting father. He was the third child out of seven. Emilio began working at a young age, primarily in a factory. Later he got a job in a photography and restoration studio.
He was imperatively a self taught artist aside from a few night classes. After an initial formative experience within Expressionism, he joined the group "Corrente"(1942–43), during the second world war, which included other artists such as Renato Guttuso and Renato Birolli. He recorded his experience in his drawings. Vedova returned to Venice towards the demise of the war. He participated in the Resistenza and played a key role in the post-war Italian art movement, which was opening up and contributing originally to the European avant-garde. His work was getting much more abstract. His images represented the apprehension of the time, with his geometric shapes, and color palette. In 1946 he co-signed the manifesto Beyond Guernica which included several Italian artists who were to become famous. In 1947 Vedova founded Fronte Nuovo delle Arti,In 1952 he became a member of the influential and more avant garde, Gruppo degli Otto (Afro, Birolli, Corpora, Santomaso, Morlotti, Vedova, Moreni, Turcato), organised by the critic Lionello Venturi. His work exerted a significant influence on the Arte Povera group.
In 1951, Vedova exhibited his first solo show in the United States at the Catherine Viviano Gallery located in New York. This show was where he began to attract big name collectors, like Peggy Guggenheim. In the following year, he was apart of Gruppo degli Otto Pittori Italiani (Group of Eight Italian Painters) a show exhibited at the Venice Biennale. The show was arranged by Lionello Venturi. This show is what is known to have begun the great art movement recognized as Arte Informale.
He later established a fruitful cooperation with composer Luigi Nono, designing scenographies and costumes for the opera Intolleranza 1960. In 1984 he designed a highly original light setting for Nono's opera Prometeo at La Fenice. Nono dedicated to Vedova his first work for magnetic tape Omaggio a Vedova (1960).
Vedova had a number of gallery and museum exhibitions, at places like the Galleria Nazionale d`Arte Moderna and the Guggenheim. His work has proven to be very successful in auctions.
Vedova spent most of his life in Venice, where he taught at the Accademia di Belle Arti.
Vedova's offerings to art, were acknowledged through awards and solo shows.
- In 1951 at the first São Paulo Biennial, he was awarded the prize for young painters.
- In 1956 he won a Guggenheim International award.
- In 1960 at the Venice Biennale, he received the Grand Prize for painting
- A tribute to Emilio Vedova with photos
- Obituary, from The Daily Telegraph
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