Enrico Castellani (b. 1930)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Enrico Castellani (b. 1930)

Superficie grafite

Details
Enrico Castellani (b. 1930)
Superficie grafite
signed, titled and dated 'Enrico Castellani - Superficie grafite - 1978 -' (on the overlap)
acrylic on shaped canvas
39¾ x 59 3/8in. (101 x 150.7cm.)
Executed in 1978
Provenance
Private Collection, Milan.
Anon. sale, Christie's Milan, 21 May 2002, lot 306.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
I.S. Engelke, 'Enrico Castellani', in Künstler. Kritisches Lexicon der Gegenwartskunst, Munich 2006 (illustrated in colour, p. 13).
R. Wirz & F. Sardella, Enrico Castellani. Catalogo Ragionato. Tomo primo. Il percorso artistico, Milan 2012 (illustrated in colour, p. 196); Tomo secondo, Opere 1955-2002, no. 460 (illustrated, p. 446). Enrico Castellani - Günther Uecker, exh. cat., Venice, Ca' Pesaro, Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna, 2012-2013 (illustrated in colour with incorrect details, p. 81).
Enrico Castellani - Günter Uecker, exh. cat., Saint-Etienne, Musée d'art moderne, 2013 (illustrated in colour, p. 95).
Exhibited
Rome, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Spazio Risonanze, Risonanze #1, Enrico Castellani & Uto Ughi, 2006-2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 62).
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.

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Anne Elisabeth Spittler
Anne Elisabeth Spittler

Lot Essay

Concerned solely with the interplay of light, space and time, Superficie Grafite is an eloquent example of Castellani's unique brand of elemental art. The epitome of Castellani's aesthetic manifesto, announced in Contro lo stile and subsequently reiterated in Azimuth 1959-60, the avant-garde journal founded by the artist in conjunction with Piero Manzoni, Superficie Grafite's ascetic beauty is the result of the liberation of the surface from compositional and chromatic restrictions and of the establishment of a visual language so rigorously impersonal as to effectively eliminate autobiographical intrusion and achieve objective autonomy. Castellani asserted that his goal lay 'beyond the painting' but 'not beyond the canvas'- in the dilation, destabilisation and dematerialisation of space and in the 'erasure of the physical dimension'. Where Manzoni 'was concerned with gestures and behaviour', Castellani insists that he has always been, 'tied to the surface and the object, to their analysis and definition'. (E. Castellani, interview with A. Trimarco, in Flash Art, no. 135, Nov 1986, p.26)
Castellani's answer to Manzoni's minimalist, kaolin soaked Achromes, his superficie are reductionist manifestations of a desire to de-mystify art, the result of research both into the visualisation of the void and of the infinite. Castellani's process of construction is lengthy, laborious, adamantly craft-based and yet mathematically inexhaustible.'I always start from the edge of the picture, where I construct arithmetical subdivisions that are the starting point [] The true programming, the intentional sequence is situated on the edge: what happens on the surface inside this is fortuitous'. (E. Castellani in a discussion at the University of Rome)
As in the case of Pollock's paintings, the outcome of Castellani's constructional automatism is unpredictable, due in large part to the capricious play of light on his three dimensional surfaces: studded trajectories, punctuated by pits and protrusions which, under conditions of maximum monochromatic reflection, as with Superficie Grafite, delight and disorientate, transgressing all symmetry. Castellani chose silver for its ability to dematerialise light to an even greater degree than previously thought possible, effecting the ultimate 'erasure of the physical dimension' more absolutely even than white. Such 'indefinitely repeatable, monochrome' canvases characterised as they are by rhythmic paths, peaks and troughs, 'give the works themselves the concreteness of infinity that may endure the conjugation of time, the only conceivable dimension- the yardstick and the justification of our spiritual need'. (E. Castellani, 'Continuity and the New', in Azimuth, no.2, Milan, 1960)
Between 1961 and 1965, Castellani experimented with diverse articulations of the shaped canvas, dilating, coercing and curving his creations so as to produce angular works, baldachins, diptychs and triptychs. Where others have viewed the shaped canvases as anomalies within the artist's oeuvre, Castellani asserts a poetic continuity in these works. Superficie Grafite is a subtler reiteration of such formal experimentation, the shaped canvas seeming to better harness the essential energy Castellani believed to be inherent in his chiaroscuro constructions.
Although maintaining the characteristics of his early work, Castellani's output was, from the 1970s to the 1990s, distinguished by Superficie that became structurally more complex and visually mesmeric. Superficie Grafite, is one such example, wonderfully kinetic, its studded silver surface seems at once to vibrate and yet remain seductively static, the truculent modulation of light resulting in the endless shift of virtual patterns and rhythmic lines.

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