• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7618

    The Italian Sale

    20 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 131

    Mimmo Rotella (1918-2006)

    I due evasi

    Price Realised  


    Mimmo Rotella (1918-2006)
    I due evasi
    signed 'Rotella' (lower right); titled and dated '"I DUE EVASI" 1960' (on the reverse)
    décollage on canvas
    59 1/8 x 55 1/8in. (150 x 140cm.)
    Executed in 1960

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Mimmo Rotella's, I due evasi is a décollage of several cinema posters torn from the street walls of Rome, from the man most often credited with pioneering the technique. Unlike the constructive unification of disparate materials in collage, Rotella's décollage is at once deconstructive and archeological, unmasking the chaotic and accumulative flow of random matter in a world dominated by visual communication. Initially, Rotella had focussed on the texture of ripped posters and the expressive potential of their shredded surfaces. But it was in 1960, the year that I due evasi was executed, that he began to pay more attention to the content as well as the appearance of the posters themselves. Here, the glories of once-glamorous movie posters can be glimpsed through their new tattered state, evoking a strange tension between the seductive veneer of advertising and the gritty reality of life in a Post-War European metropolis.

    Seeing these testimonials of city-life, it is clear why, in the same year I due evasi was created, Pierre Restany invited Rotella to join the Nouveau Réaliste movement. Much like his contemporaries in Paris, Rotella replaced the need for a subjective and emotive participation with painting for an objective and impersonal process that encompassed the material reality of mass society, thereby forging a link between the artist and his wider social context. Yet, rather than re-presenting his found materials in a passive way, as Duchamp had done before him, Rotella attacks them with a violence that appears to represent a struggle against the urban environment, where nature has been replaced by a culture that is artificial in the extreme.

    Intriguingly, the disassociated imagery of Rotella's chosen medium is capable of surprising sociological resonance. Amongst its accreted layers, it is possible to read the partial title for the film Noi siamo due evasi, a popular Italian comedy caper from which this painting takes its name. Intermingled with this and a number of other advertisements is the cast list for The Last Blitzkrieg, an American production based on the defeat of the German army at the Battle of the Bulge, presenting a chance combination that evokes the American influence on Italy's economy and culture after World War II. As a reflection of reality, Due evasi is neither celebration nor condemnation, but an inscrutable witness of everyday life, that acts to transform the ephemera of an ever-shifting present into a mirror on to the past.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1981.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Milan, Rotonda di via Besana, Mimmo Rotella, April-May 1975 (illustrated, unpaged).
    Milan, Galleria dell'Ariete, Mimmo Rotella. Opere dal 1960-1975, November 1977, no. 2.
    Nice, Galerie des Ponchettes-Galerie d'Art Contemporain des Musées de Nice, Les Nouveaux Réalistes suivi d'Actualité, July-September 1982 (illustrated, p. 41).
    Milan, Galleria Marconi, Rotella Décollages 1954-1964, November 1986 (illustrated, p. 57).
    Paris, Galerie Lavignes-Bastille, Mimmo Rotella. Oeuvres de 1965 1987, October 1987.
    New York, Zabriskie Gallery, Nouveaux Réalistes. Works from 1957 to 1963 by: Arman César Christo Gérard Deschamps François Dufrêne Raymond Hains Yves Klein Martial Raysse Mimmo Rotella Niki de Saint Phalle Daniel Spoerri Jean Tinguely Jacques de la Villeglé, May-July 1988.
    Nice, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Mimmo Rotella Rétrospective, December 1999-April 2000, no. 35 (illustrated in colour, p. 42).
    Rome, Galleria Mucciaccia, Mimmo Rotella, May-July 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 51).