• The Italian Sale  auction at Christies

    Sale 7757

    The Italian Sale

    16 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 31

    Mimmo Rotella (1918-2006)


    Price Realised  


    Mimmo Rotella (1918-2006)
    signed, titled and dated 'Rotella "pianura" 1960' (on the reverse)
    retro d'affiche on canvas
    47¼ x 33¼in. (120 x 84cm.)
    Executed in 1960

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    The Fondazione Mimmo Rotella has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

    Mimmo Rotella's décollages appropriate and transform our urban surroundings and present them as slices of intense reality. The walls of our cities tell their own tales, provide the archaeological traces of our own existence, and this was all the more the case in 1960, when Pianura was created, as the scars of the Second World War were still in conspicuous evidence in much of Italy. Pianura, then, in both its inscrutability and its incredible wealth of textures, taps into the atmosphere of existential angst that gripped so much of the avant-garde of the period, functioning in a similar way to the works of Rotella's contemporary, Alberto Burri. In the wake of the War, and following the incredible developments in modern art over the last century, Rotella had found himself at an impasse, trying to find a valid way of representing the world. His elegant solution came in the mid 1950s: not to represent, but instead to reassemble reality. Looking at Pianura, it is clear why Pierre Restany would, in the same year that this work was created, invite Rotella to exhibit alongside the Nouveaux Réalistes in France.

    In Pianura, Rotella has stripped fragments of posters from the walls and placed them on the surface. These elements have mainly been affixed face down, creating a deliberately abstract, highly-textured work that avoids the Pop stylization which was to become so evident in his later works, where the faded features of the vintage stars stare out from the surface. Here, Rotella has created a work that appears to pay tribute to the precursors of Dadaism in its use of scattered remnants of the ephemeral advertisements that littered his city. Pianura, then, offers the viewer with a fleeting moment, a reliquary to existentialism, a moment in the life of the modern world captured as though in amber through the preservation and elevation of these disposable materials, these formerly-neglected artefacts of the modern world. This is not mere 'realism,' but is instead a raw segment of reality itself.

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    Sandro Petti Collection, Rome.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    T. Trini, Rotella, Milan 1974 (titled 'Senza titolo', 80 x 50cm, illustrated in colour, unpaged).


    Pisa, Palazzo Lanfranchi, Mimmo Rotella. Antologica, May-August 2001 (illustrated in colour, p. 76).
    Beijing, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Mimmo Rotella: China exhibition, April-May 2003, no. 5 (illustrated in colour, p. 38).
    Croatia, Art Pavillion in Zagreb, Mimmo Rotella in Zagreb, September-October 2003.