This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Archivio Bonalumi, Milan, numbered SD-002
As a leading exponent of Milan's artistic vanguard of in the 1960s, Agostino Bonalumi was associated with a new generation of artists wanting to overcome personal and existential expression in art in order to examine its structural realities. Executed in 1966, Bonalumi's monochromatic Untitled construction clearly displays the critical attention towards process and materiality that would come to define minimalist and conceptual art. Inspired in part by his friendship with Lucio Fontana, Bonalumi replaced any sense of individual expression in his artworks with an investigation of their physical and spatial presence. This lead him to develop such self-described 'picture-objects' as Untitled, which projects into the real space of the viewer's domain rather than containing its own illusionary inner-space. The canvas, no longer a flat field for receiving painted marks, becomes a three-dimensional structure with its own vitality, protruding and receding into space in order to confront the pre-determined limits of existing mediums.
The present lot is a work made especially for the current owner in the year of Bonalumi's debut at the Venice Biennale, the pure white surface as a kind of void, its neutrality allowing light and shadow alone to define the ribs, troughs and lines that have been modelled from the verso by wood and wire structures. This reductivist method establishes a unique approach to the artistic tabula rasa called for in the groundbreaking Azimuth, the journal Bonalumi co-founded with Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani, that demanded, 'Images which are as absolute as possible, which cannot be valued for that which they record, explain and express, but only for that which they are to be' (P. Manzoni, 'For the Discovery of a Zone of Images', Spring 1957, Azimuth 2, 1960). Following these principles, Bonalumi relies on the physical materiality of Untitled to form its sole content and purpose, producing a work that actively examines the established paradigm of art and pushes the ground zero logic of Manzoni's white Achrome paintings into a sculptural realm. Although it may retain the materials typical of painting, the work is far removed from a window upon the world or a reflection of the self, standing instead as a perfectly self-contained object whose aesthetic simplicity can be understood by all.