figurative works 

In the early 60s, the artist began to abandon the raw realism inspired by the German Neue Sachlichkeit of the 30s and 40s and also the kind of neo-realism that in the post-war years had characterized her works to experiment other styles of pictorial expression.


More specifically, Costa moved towards a renewal of expressionist positions that more adequately expressed the complexity and depth of her inner universe, looking back in time towards the avant-gardes that appeared more functional to represent a world still full of contradictions and suffering.

In this series of color and black and white paintings, Costa focused on the human and its infinite expressions.   Even if she never wanted to report directly about the war, its spectrum hovers in a good part of her artistic production. As in search of a possible new humanism, after the upheavals and horrors of war, the artist seemed to consider human beings as the center of the universe and collective feeling.


In her figurative works made since the 1960s, we can remark some variations that Costa introduced in her painting at that time: the violent brushstrokes and striking use of color, furthermore the almost obsessive interest in the human figure, who started to appear as deformed, in traits and proportions. In this series of paintings, the characters seem afflicted by the weight of deep existential anxiety. They have oversized limbs, hands, and eyes on which the artist concentrates her attention emphasizing through their gaze several feelings and states of mind: tension, fear, pain, perplexity, or expectation towards life that sometimes appeared like uncomprehensible.


While never making direct reference to feminist claims, Costa always focuses on women in her works. Unheeded, marginalized even within their families, women carry weights and responsibilities on their shoulders that crush their individuality and personality. From her writings, we learn how difficult it was for the artist to accept that role of "obedience" and respect for the order of things that society at the time expected from a woman from an early age.

"Why was I born a woman if I had so much desire to be a free man?" 


"Humans caught in one of the many indefinite expressions: pride, love, pain, indifference, pain, anger ... human beings like mutants, passing by like us this is what I wanted to paint"

Valeria Costa

In the 1960s Valeria Costa often began to travel abroad, accompanying her husband, the engineer Ferdinando Piccinini, on his many trips around the world between Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

These numerous trips nourished her artistic imagination and sometimes helped her to bring to light still vivid memories linked to the years of Italian dictatorship and war, which the artist had never wanted to address directly.