Classical Marble Sculptures Recreated With a Contemporary Suit of Tattoos

Tattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio Viale

Displayed throughout Piazza del Duomo in the Tuscan town of Pietrasanta, ancient marble sculptures aren’t quite what they seem. They were placed there by Italian artist Fabio Viale as part of his Truly exhibition, curated by Enrico Mattei. The statues are no ordinary stone figures though—they’re all “tattooed.”

Viale’s fascination with tattoos began when he met a Russian tattoo artist whose hands were full of “odd” symbols. “I felt really curious, and I asked him to draw a sculpture,” Viale tells My Modern Met. “I like the kind of tattoos that deal with death and life and use ancient symbology.”

Viale doesn’t just hand-paint the surface of his marble sculptures—he uses an ink that infiltrates the stone’s pores, resulting in the color that penetrates all the way through. He challenges the perception of ancient statues by merging the old art form with modern body art. “My goal of tattooing marble is to create a double identity sculpture: tattooing old masterpieces means donating a second life and, in a contemporary way, a new collective image,” he explains. “Today, tattoos could be considered as a suit that everybody may wear, old statues too! Changing ancient statues' life builds a temporal bridge towards universal beauty.”

Although most of the sculptures feature tattoos, the central pieces to Viale’s Truly exhibition are without. Inside the 14th-century church of Sant’Agostino, the Three Graces are positioned to sit on plinths. The three figures represent three women from Ghardaïa, a city in Algeria. They all wear the traditional haik, a white, long garment wrapped around the head and body. The sculptures are intended to provoke questions around the issues of personal and religious freedom.

See more images from Viale’s Truly exhibition, below, plus some behind the scenes shots. If you want to know more about this artist’s work, make sure to visit his website.

For his Truly exhibition, Italian artist Fabio Viale displayed tattooed marble sculptures in the Tuscan town of Pietrasanta.

Tattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio Viale

His goal was to give the ancient statues a “double identity.”

Tattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio Viale

He challenges the perception of ancient sculpture by merging the old art form with modern body art.

Tattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio Viale

Each “tattoo” is hand-painted by Viale using special ink that permanently stains the stone.

Tattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio VialeTattooed Marble Sculptures by Fabio Viale

Inside the 14th-century church of Sant’Agostino, the Three Graces sit on plinths, representing three women from Ghardaïa, a city in Algeria.

"Truly" by Fabio Viale

Wearing the traditional haik wrapped around the head and body, the statues are intended to provoke questions around the issues of personal freedom.

"Truly" by Fabio Viale

Fabio Viale: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Fabio Viale.

Related Articles:

How Marble Sculptures Have Inspired Artists and Captivated Audiences for Millenia

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A Detailed Look at Bernini’s Most Dramatically Lifelike Marble Sculpture

17th-Century Sculpture Captures Unbelievable Lace Details in Hand-Carved Marble

Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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