• Post War and Contemporary Art  auction at Christies

    Sale 7834

    Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction

    11 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 25

    Arnaldo Pomodoro (b. 1926)

    Semaforo

    Price Realised  

    Arnaldo Pomodoro (b. 1926)
    Semaforo
    bronze on steel base
    39 x 11¾ x 12¾in. (99.1 x 29.6 x 31.6cm.)
    overall: 50 7/8 x 11¾ x 12¾in. (129.2 x 29.6 x 31.6cm.)
    Executed in 1962, this work is number one from an edition of one plus one artist proof


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    Arnaldo Pomodoro created Semaforo in 1962. It therefore dates from an exciting and highly creative phase in the career of one of the most important sculptors of today. Pomodoro had travelled in the United States of America only a couple of years earlier, and this interlude marked an important watershed in his work. The visual idiom that he had previously evolved was now consolidated, resulting in the incredible contrast, so central to the striking power of Semaforo, between the smooth, gleaming areas and the tooth-like indentations, or as he referred to them, 'erosions.'

    These areas, which have become so iconic and instantly recognisable, had come about in Pomodoro's work as a result of a series of ideas. He had been intrigued by the idea of 'writing' in sculpture, creating a visual equivalent in three dimensions of Abstract Expressionism. Likewise, he had earlier been influenced by Paul Klee. And crucially, these 'erosions' allowed him to explore notions of negative space, to sculpt as much with the voids where the bronze should, by logic, be, as with the material itself. In Semaforo, space eats into the work, meaning that the boundary between the sculpture and its surroundings is blurred and disrupted.

    Pomodoro's sculptures are intended both as timeless monuments and as stele to technology. In his unique aesthetic, the 'erosions' come to look like circuits, capturing the gleam and glamour of the hi-tech world in which we live. Semaforo dates from the dawn of space travel, and accordingly celebrates the idea of technology, such a defining aspect of our modern existence. Yet he was deliberately ambiguous and ambivalent, maintaining a distance that allowed him to critique the incredible advances and inventions and their all-too-often destructive potential. 'Mainly in these sculptures I sense the discovery and the drama of technological exploration and its rather powers,' he himself explained.

    'We knew we could put man in a position to destroy himself and the entire world. I interpret my surface erosions and irregularities as symbols of the destructive impulse. I think this drama of erosion captures the sense of foreboding, of a certain anxiety about the course of events at that time in our history. I wanted to suggest that the misuse of our technology could destroy mankind. Man can make ultimate war today just sitting at a table, pushing buttons, as we know so well. The situation creates a sense of aggravated discomfort' (Pomodoro, quoted in S. Hunter, Arnaldo Pomodoro, New York, 1982, p. 58).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    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.


    Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1968.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION


    Literature

    Arnaldo Pomodoro, exh. cat., Paris, Galerie Internationale d'art contemporain, 1962 (another from the edition illustrated).
    Arnaldo Pomodoro, exh. cat., Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, 1969, pl. 16 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 19). F. Gualdoni, Arnaldo Pomodoro Catalogo ragionato della scultura, vol. II, Milan 2007, no. 321 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 491).


    Exhibited

    Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Arnaldo Pomodoro e Gio Pomodoro, February-March 1963 (illustrated).
    Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 40 ans d'art vivant-Hommage à Robert Giron, 1968, pl. 113 (illustrated, unpaged).