Enrico Castellani (b. 1930)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE ITALIAN COLLECTION
Enrico Castellani (b. 1930)

Superficie bianca n. 34

Enrico Castellani (b. 1930)
Superficie bianca n. 34
acrylic on shaped canvas
70 7/8 x 99in. (180 x 251.6cm.)
Executed in 1966, this work can be displayed horizontally in either orientation as per the artist's intentions
Galleria dell'Ariete, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1967.
G. Celant, Ugo Mulas, Milano 1990 (installation view illustrated, p. 112).
Enrico Castellani, exh. cat., Milan, Fondazione Prada, 2001 (installation views illustrated, pp. 64-67).
G. Celant, Piero Manzoni, Milan 2007, p. 34.
Castellani Morellet, exh. cat., Padua, A arte Invernizzi Seragiotto, 2009, p. 4.
F. Pola, F. Sardella (eds.), Castellani Morellet, exh. cat., Padua, A arte Invernizzi Seragiotto, 2009 (illustrated, p. 4).
B. Blistne, Enrico Castellani, Siena 2011(illustrated, pp. 16 and 17, installation view illustrated, p. 21).
R. Wirz and F. Sardella (eds.), Enrico Castellani: Catalogo ragionato Tomo primo il percorso artistico, 2013, no. 203 (illustrated in colour, vol. 2, p. 138 and illustrated in colour, vol. 2, p. 367).
Venezia, Padiglione Italia, Giardini di Castello, XXXIII Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte, 1966.
San Marino, Palazzo dei Congressi, Nuove tecniche dell'immagine. VI Biennale d'Arte, 1967 (illustrated, p. 51).
Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art, Exhibition of Contemporary Italian Art, 1967.
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.
Further details
This work is registered in the Archivio Enrico Castellani, Milan, under no. 66-020.

Lot Essay

A Futuristic-looking white plane of dynamically contrasting monochrome form and undulating surface, Superficie bianca n. 34 (White Surface n. 34) is one of five large and uniquely formatted works that Enrico Castellani made for Room LVI of the Central Italian Pavilion of the 1966 Venice Biennale. Collectively this highly significant group of works formed a radical and ground-breaking series of elegant and often elaborately-shaped monochrome white canvases in which the artist extended his unique aesthetic of 'surfaces' beyond the conventional bounds of painting into an exciting, new and ultimately indefinable spatial dimension.

Created in 1966, Superficie bianca n. 34 is a work that not only breaks down the conventional borderlines between painting and sculpture and between space, surface and material, but is also one that appears to anticipate and express a notion of the later, vast, and complete spatial environments that Castellani was to make in the late 1960s and early '70s.

Castellani's Superfici (Surfaces) were the elegant solution and material response to his call, first voiced in the magazine Azimuth that he founded in Milan with Piero Manzoni in 1959, for an elemental art based solely on the concepts of space, light and time.

In a move similar to the autonomous technique applied in Manzoni's Achromes where blank canvases dipped in Kaolin came to form self-defining entities wholly, independent from the artist, but asserting their own materiality and existential presence, Castellani developed an equally authorless and arbitrary approach in the creation of his Superfici.

Following his mentor Lucio Fontana's radical break with tradition, but instead of adding to the painting's surface, operating on the space around the picture, Castellani evolved a technique of spatially distorting the empty monochrome surface of the painting by stretching it over a systematically prepared relief background of nails. These, indented into the rear of the canvas transformed its two dimensional surface into an undulating arena of play between, light and shade, and between positive and negative depth. In some respects these works echoed some of the developments made by the Group Zero in Dusseldorf, with whom Castellani and Manzoni were also in contact. The geometric regularity of their patterning intentionally added to the impression of the entire work being a holistic entity and, as both a microcosm and a macrocosm, it could then be conceived of as a model of our concept of both infinity and the void.

This sense of infinity was intrinsic to Castellani's use of monochrome surfaces which he asserted had to be as 'immaterial as possible'. Through this conjunction of the heavy materiality of the back and the ultimate sense of 'immateriality' expressed by the work as a whole, a two dimensional surface transformed into a three-dimensional object, became a harmonious unit.

Emphasizing the flat monochrome canvas plane with a square that extends within the canvas in a perspectival way into an intense plane of undulating light and shade, Superficie bianca n. 34 is a work that directly anticipates the extension of Castellani's basic aesthetic into complete environments. This can perhaps best be seen through a comparison of this work with the diptych Superficie Bianca of 1967 in which Castellani has developed the same spatial premise set out here in this work into a twin-canvas format that further breaks down the border between painting and sculpture and clearly extends the spatial concept of these works out into perspectival space of the room wherein they are to be set. 'Because (my surfaces) are no longer part of the dominion of painting or sculpture', Castellani said, 'and since they may assume the character of monumentality of architecture or scale down its space, they are the reflection of the total interior space, without contradictions, to which we tend. Thus they exist - insofar as they are objects that may be assimilated instantly - for the duration of an act of communion before time confines them to their material precariousness' (E. Castellani, quoted in G. Celant (ed.), Enrico Castellani, exh. cat., Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2001, p. 149).

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