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    Sale 12244

    The Italian Sale

    6 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 110

    Piero Dorazio (1927-2005)

    Miss Kayenta

    Price Realised  


    Piero Dorazio (1927-2005)
    Miss Kayenta
    signed, titled and dated 'Piero Dorazio' "Miss Kayenta" 1964' (on the stretcher)

    oil on canvas
    58 ¾ x 77 ¼in. (149.5 x 196cm.)
    Executed in 1964

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    ‘In previous paintings Dorazio eliminated the void, filling it with a rigorous cage of signs. Now he is bringing it to the fore and his paintings are a balance between positive and negative. Even a clear and distinct structure as this one was born in the very moment of making: a painting by Dorazio isn’t a symphonic composition, but rather a “cool-jazz” piece, the next stage is always unplanned’

    ‘These large, heraldic canvases share a dependence on original and striking colour juxtaposition, a reduction of shape-vocabulary to the simplest units and combinations, and what Clement Greenberg calls a “clarity and openness” that minimizes the importance of the frame. Because of the thinly applied or soaked pigment, areas of bare canvas or the visual destruction of flatness by colour contrasts, the picture surface – so important to the abstract expressionists – is dematerialized. The colour elements, their forms so diagrammatic as to be unobtrusive, are given maximum freedom of operation in every direction’

    With its densely packed web of vibrantly coloured brushstrokes, Miss Kayenta is a key example of the visual dynamism of Piero Dorazio’s mature style, as he continued to explore the optical effects of pure abstraction through the delicate balance of contrasting colour and line. Originally trained as an architect, Dorazio was a pioneering figure in the Post-war Italian art scene, an active member of a variety of artistic and literary circles who engaged with a broad spectrum of diverse intellectual currents internationally. Drawing on a myriad of influences, including the School of Paris, Russian Supremativism, Italian Futurism, and Abstract Expressionism, Dorazio’s painterly style became increasingly concerned with the optical illusionism of abstract, geometric elements and the ways in which the viewer’s eye reacted to combinations of colour and form to make static graphic elements appear to oscillate across the canvas. In Miss Kayenta, the artist delicately weaves radiant bars of colour together, allowing lines of multiple orientation to converge in a thick bundle at the centre of the composition. This condensed arrangement resonates in the eye of the viewer, causing the bars of colour to appear to shift and move, vibrating towards and away from the front of the canvas as they overlap and converge on one another. Playing with the sensations of vision in this way, works such as Miss Kayenta brought Dorazio to the attention of William Seitz, curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, who invited Dorazio to participate in the museum’s ground breaking exhibition of optical art, The Responsive Eye, in 1965.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Marlborough Galleria d’Arte, Rome.
    Benito Storni Collection, Florence.
    Galleria La Piramide, Florence.
    Galleria Tornabuoni, Florence.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008.


    M. Fagiolo dell’Arco, ‘Dorazio dal modulo al segno-personaggio’, in Avanti, Rome 1966, no. 60 (illustrated, p. 49).
    P. Dorazio, M. Mendes, ‘Piero Dorazio contesta cinco preguntas de Murilo Mendes’, in Amaru, Lima, June - September 1968, no. 16 (illustrated, p. 56).
    M. Volpi Orlandini, Dorazio, Venice 1977, no. 736 (illustrated, unpaged).


    Rome, Marlborough Galleria d’Arte, Piero Dorazio, 1964 (illustrated, unpaged).
    New York, Marlborough - Gerson Gallery, Piero Dorazio, 1965, no. 2 (illustrated, unpaged).
    Pittsburgh, Arts & Crafts Center, Pasmore, Marcarelli, Dorazio, 1968.
    Berlin, Haus am Waldsee, Art Actuel en Italie. Piero Dorazio, 1968-1969, no. 2. This exhibition later travelled to Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts de Brussels.
    Cagnes-sur-Mer, Château-Musée, Dix mâitres de la Peinture Italienne, 1970.
    Rome, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Piero Dorazio, 1983-1984, no. 41 (illustrated, p. 58).