Pietro Psaier


Pietro Psaier was born in Italy in 1936. Psaier was best known for his Pop art and can be closely linked to Andy Warhol where he worked at his studio "The Factory", in New York often collaborating on pieces with Warhol.

The paintings, drawings and assorted works by Psaier cannot be truly assembled into any chronological sequence, but into groups that for most part can be described as sets of formal problems.

Psaier was in the right place at the right time, and became the last artist to draw and sketch the great Francis Bacon, prior to his death in Madrid in 1992.

Early career:
During the late 1950s Pietro Psaier worked with his father on concept cars designs for Enzo Ferrari.

The 1960s:
On October 27th 1962 his mentor, the Italian industrialist, Enrico Mattei died in a mysterious plane crash.

Feeling lost in post-war Italy the young Pietro relocated to Madrid during the dark Franco era. The artist explored the world of classical bull fighting.

He created his own style of art known as Toro Pop. Psaier produced a Tijuana Bible exhibition. The erotica works in the exhibition were seized by Franco's Guardia Civil on the orders of the Catholic Church. Psaier was arrested and imprisoned and subsequently deported back to Italy. On Psaier's return to Italy his artistic work became destructive, anarchistic, political and spiritual. So different from other artists working at this time.

In the summer of 1963 Pietro Psaier travelled to Mexico City and made his way to California. In the Santa Monica Mountains he met hippy surfer Rick Griffin. Griffin was living in the Topanga Canyon where he created 'Murph the Surf, the cartoon character well known to all Californian Surfers in the 1960s. Rick Griffin gave Psaier refuge in his log cabin. Psaier and Griffin collaborated, sharing ideas, which formed a working method and encompassed social interaction with California's multi-faceted underground art circle.

Being at the height of the San Francisco Flower Power era many had become immersed into a drug haze and their art would have a powerful voice. Their work developed into concert posters with a Twilight Zone, Anti-Vietnam War or Rock and Roll flavour, which would grace the bedrooms of thousands of young people the world over.

Later Psaier moved to New York. Whilst working as a waiter in the Greenwich Village Gaslight Café he met Andy Warhol. Warhol nicknamed him “Peter the Italian” and they worked and remained friends until the late 1960s. Although Warhol needed to trace and use a light box Psaier was a skilled artist with watercolours, oils and pencil. Psaier produced layouts, silk-screens and joint works at Warhol’s studio “The Factory” though few artistic or financial rewards would come his way.

Some critics say that without Psaier and fellow artist Rupert Jasen Smith in the background, Warhol could never have produced and maintained production of the Factory commercial output but with both dignity and style both men chose not to take the limelight from Warhol.

The 1980s
Psaier travels to Tibet and Nepal during the mid-1980s allowed him to live a life far away from financial problems with Agents and Lawyers in both Rome and Los Angeles.

Pietro Psaier’s bold figurative imagery and semi-abstraction is truly a visual pun, and he exploits with exquisite precision. The agonizing physical disturbance characterized by a series of women hanging would appear to be based on Psaier’s subconscious mind which instinctually is driven with sexuality and death. In particular Psaier has developed a graphic style of great brilliance in which his anatomies merge, essentially resolved themselves into an ongoing series of convulsively sexual images.

The 1990s
At the beginning of the 1990s a still growing body of fantastic images filled many of Pietro Psaier’s studio sketch books in Los Angeles and Madrid. In his later work there is a demonstration of his versatility.

The Millennium
In September 2004, Pietro Psaier was asked by Our Lady of Malibu Church, high above the Malibu coastline to exhibit his highly acclaimed The Passion of the Christ. Mel Gibson had built a chapel on his ranch hidden away on the Malibu Cyn. The series of sixteen oil on canvas are the last known works to have been created by the artist and were sold by John Nicholson Auctioneers in December 2006.

As a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake which struck on December 26th 2004 and the Tsunami which followed, Pietro Psaier's remote beach house on the coast of Sri Lanka was swept away, his body was never found.