Mimmo Rotella (Italian, 1918-2006) RS 1975

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Lot 9* AR W
Mimmo Rotella
(Italian, 1918-2006)
RS
1975

£ 25,000 - 35,000
US$ 34,000 - 48,000
Mimmo Rotella (Italian, 1918-2006)
RS
1975

signed and dated 75; titled and dated 1975 on the reverse
décollage on canvas

140 by 100 cm.
55 1/8 by 39 3/8 in.

Footnotes

  • This work is registered in the Archivio Mimmo Rotella, Milan, under number 0468 DC 975/000.

    Provenance
    Studio Lattuada, Milan (no. 2729)
    JZ Art Trading, Milan
    Sale: Sotheby's, Milan, Arte contemporanea¸ 26 November 2008, Lot 349
    Private Collection, Europe
    Sale: Christie's, London, Post-War & Contemporary Art, 19 October 2013, Lot 342
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner



    Executed in 1975, RS is an archetypal example of Mimmo Rotella's enduring dedication to the art of décollage: the act of tearing or removing layers of imagery to create new meaning through unexpected visual juxtaposition. Rotella used found imagery in the form of advertising posters which he appropriated from streets and urban environments.
    Often dressed rather dashingly, Rotella would head out and tear down posters that interested him not only visually but also conceptually, in a fleeting moment of mischievous vandalism. Back in the studio, he would mount these posters on to canvas, and rip and tear away at each layer, resulting in a final product of high culture that transcended the ephemeral nature of its parts. This was not the visual appropriation of the everyday, but the physical appropriation of the everyday.

    Visually imposing and deft in its execution, RS from 1975 is dominated by a ferocious tiger; a recurrent motif that pervaded Rotella's practice and one that also features on the front cover of Germano Celant's book on Rotella from 2007. This large scale work is a composite of several circus posters; in every city it is still common to see flamboyant circus advertisements dotted around, often featuring exotic imagery to entice the locals. It is a nostalgic choice of subject matter, and perhaps Rotella decided to revisit this theme throughout his career as the image of a tiger would instantly remind him of the sun kissed streets of his hometown of Catanzaro in southern Italy.

    Nostalgia is a pertinent word as, above all else, Rotella's works are the physical manifestation of memory, acting almost as time capsules to a different age and place. The posters he used were part of the very fabric of the urban landscape, its skin. Standing in front of this work in the present day one thing becomes clear - to engage with RS is to catch a glimpse back in time.
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