Giulio Paolini (b. 1940)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Giulio Paolini (B. 1940)

Ennesima (appunti per la descrizione di sette tele datate 1973) Umpteenth (Notes for the Description of Seven Canvases Dated 1973)

Giulio Paolini (B. 1940)
Ennesima (appunti per la descrizione di sette tele datate 1973)
Umpteenth (Notes for the Description of Seven Canvases Dated 1973)
signed, titled and dated 'Ennesima Giulio Paolini 1973' (on the stretcher of the first panel); each consecutively numbered '1' to '7' (on the stretchers)
graphite on primed canvas, in seven parts
each: 17.7/8 x 11.7/8in. (45.4 x 30.2cm.)
overall: 17.7/8 x 86.5/8in. (45.4 x 220cm.)
Executed in 1973

This work is accompanied by a photo-certificate signed by the artist.
Annemarie Verna Gallery, Zurich.
Private Collection, Milan.
Modern Art Agency, Naples.
Anon. sale, Christie’s London, 21 October 2003, lot 58.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
M. Disch, Giulio Paolini, catalogo ragionato, Tomo primo 1960-1982, Milan 2008, no. 255, p. 266 (illustrated, p. 267).
Milan, Studio Marconi, Giulio Paolini Atto unico in tre quadri, 1979 (illustrated, p. 106).
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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Alessandro Diotallevi
Alessandro Diotallevi

Lot Essay

One of our most sought-after works by Paolini: we consider it one of his masterpieces, with a considerable conceptual value. The initial approach is dominated by a sense of mystery that emanates from this writing by the artist that is mechanical, almost not human, purposely incomprehensible. The message inscribed is not important, because the work complies with writing as such, and with its distribution in space. By space I mean that delineated by the individual panel, in a sequence preordained by the artist, with an interval between one panel and another, that almost measures the temporal rhythms of the various phases in the drafting of the incised signs, that substitute an expressed, well-defined language.
From Paolini's point of view, Ennesima (Umpteenth) investigates the relationship between writing and image, that is to say between the work and its definition. "... the picture is a figure uncovered by the image it assumes, which it invents time after time to reveal itself, just as the writing is the decipherment of that memory which the painting concealed".
It is easier for me to observe that, with the fragmentation of space on the panels, we are looking at the corresponding fragmentation of the writing, arriving at the identification of mere symbols (penultimate panel) and, finally, at the disappearance of the writing itself (final panel). A minutely subdivided space remains, but devoid of any sign: it is in this final panel that perhaps the deep significance of the work is hidden. It is difficult to explain in words the reasons for the incredible fascination that the work continues to exert over us. Art almost never offers you specific reasons, unless you are able to find them within yourself. Or, rather, unless you don't wish to express them externally, keeping them unconsciously for yourself.
Only two different versions of Ennesima exist on canvas: this is the first, from 1973 (exhibited at the gallery of Lucio Amelio in Naples), consisting of seven panels, larger in size than the other, dated 1975 and composed of six panels. We have also asked ourselves the reason for the title Ennesima: our interpretation is that the process of fragmentation of space/writing is repeatable ad infinitum, for the "umpteenth time". Like the image that the work can offer of itself, following the artist's thought.

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