Mario Schifano (Italian, 1934-1998) Untitled 1960

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Lot 12AR
Mario Schifano
(Italian, 1934-1998)
Untitled
1960

Sold for £ 35,000 (US$ 46,587) inc. premium
Mario Schifano (Italian, 1934-1998)
Untitled
1960

signed and dated 60 on the reverse, signed and dated 60 on the stretcher
cement and iron on canvas

47.5 by 29.5 cm.
18 11/16 by 11 5/8 in.

Footnotes

  • This work is registered in the Archivio Mario Schifano, Rome, under no. 03144160416, and is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity.

    Provenance
    Mimmo Rotella Collection, Milan
    Peruz Collection, Milan
    Galleria Cenobbio Visualità, Milan
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1978-1979



    On first glance, one might simply assume Mario Schifano's Untitled 1960 to be some sort of industrial component appropriated from the street and hung on a wall. Yet this couldn't be further from the truth: this is a fully realised and composed painting, which in an iconoclastic manner, eschews traditional mediums like oil or gouache in favour of materials normally used in the building industry. When we consider the date of execution, 1960, it is clear that this is a singularly radical artwork, and a rare piece from Schifano's staggeringly diverse output.

    Here, the artist applied wet cement directly onto a canvas before affixing the rusted iron sheet and holding it in place with bolts. A quick look at the verso confirms this, as we can see the wet cement oozed through the weave of the canvas pooling in little blobs. The bolts are also clearly visible, indicating that this artwork is an assemblage in the most literal definition of the term – the use of a fully utilitarian component as an aesthetic device is something particularly radical. Paint has been replaced by naturally occurring pigment, and the orange glow of the rust is perfectly offset by the cold muteness of the cement. This cement border is redolent of Schifano's more conventional Monocromi, where a sheet of enamel painted paper is placed on a canvas, creating a border. This leitmotif would pervade his practice, and it is fascinating to see this same framework used in such an unconventional manner.

    Interestingly this artwork was in the private collection of Mimmo Rotella, the avant-garde Italian artist who pioneered the use of décollage (the ripping of posters garnered from the street) in his works. Rotella was interested in articulating the trace of time on the urban environment, and perhaps the present work spoke to him on a level that reverberated with the same ideals of his practice. In 1960, the same year as the present work was executed, Pierre Restany curated an exhibition entitled Cinque Pittori Romani: Angeli, Festa, Lo Savio, Schifano, Uncini which showcased five young Roman painters alongside each other at the Galleria La Salita in Rome. Intriguingly, similar cement works by Schifano would have been exhibited alongside works by Giuseppe Uncini – another pioneer whose practice was totally based on the use of concrete.

    Untitled, 1960, is from a very precise moment in the artist's career before he travelled to New York and Pop Art irresistibly inspired his practice. America would prove fertile ground for Schifano, and he became one of the few European artists to make a sustained influence on the Pop aesthetic internationally. Schifano even signed a contract with the legendary dealer Ileana Sonnabend in 1962 – evidence of his importance if any were ever needed. Ultimately the present work, is an utterly avant-garde and beautiful artwork, which offers collectors the chance to acquire an exceedingly rare piece by one of the most important and eclectic artists of the Post-War era.
Contacts
Mario Schifano (Italian, 1934-1998) Untitled 1960
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