Arnaldo Pomodoro (b. 1926)
Property from the Collection of Ruth and Jerome Siegel
Arnaldo Pomodoro (b. 1926)

Tavola dei segni, 1960, VIII

Arnaldo Pomodoro (b. 1926)
Tavola dei segni, 1960, VIII
incised with the artist's signature, numbered and dated 'Arnaldo Pomodoro 60 - 2/2' (on the right side edge)
bronze and wood
overall: 18 ¾ x 14 3/8 x 3 ¾ in. (47.6 x 36.5 x 9.5 cm.)
Executed in 1960. This work is number two from an edition of two plus two artist's proofs and one original lead model.
M. Fagiolo dell'Arco, Rapporto '60: le Arti oggi in Italia, Rome, 1966, pp. 127-130 (another example illustrated).
A.C. Quintavalle, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Parma, 1990, p. 60 (another example illustrated).
F. Gualdoni, Pomodoro. Lo turbo e 'l chiaro, Varese, 1998, p. 13 (another example illustrated).
F. Gualdoni, ed., Arnaldo Pomodoro: Catalogo ragionatto della scultura, Tomo II, Milan, 2007, p. 427, no. 148 (another example illustrated).
Genoa, Galleria del Deposito, Arnaldo Pomodoro, May 1966 (another example exhibited).

Lot Essay

This work is registered in Arnaldo Pomodoro Archive, Milan, no. AP 155c.

Arnoldo Pomodoro, one of Italy’s most revered sculptors, forged a singular relationship with metal and wood to explore the links between the natural and the machine, the organic and the artificial, the written word and the image in sculpture, jewelry and theatre design. Amongst Pomodoro’s best known works are his Tablets, with their Rosetta-stone like markings, and Spheres, with their globe-like form opened to reveal its internal mechanisms.

The artist’s Tablets reflect Pomodoro’s fascination with ways of writing, catching the artist's mark, and articulating space and material. In the late 1950s, when he began making flat sculptures with an array of circuitry-like elements carved into their surfaces, he had been fascinated by the strange, alien forms of 'writing' that hovered elusively beyond understanding in Paul Klee's paintings. Pomodoro took that organic means of visual expression and granted it a new three-dimensionality. In 1959, Pomodoro took a trip to New York, where he encountered the works of Constantin Brancusi, Jackson Pollock, Louise Nevelson and David Smith. Upon his return to Milan, Pomodoro would be more deliberate in the exploration of mark-making to create works like Tavola dei segni, 1960, VIII. As to the alphabet-like quality of the writing, Pomodoro has said, “Many of my works look like the cross-sections of sophisticated machinery. But there is another type of sculpture where the ‘decorative element’ (in the most positive sense of the word) emerges. These are the works that have been inspired by journeys into other civilizations. Profound suggestions immortalized in metallic fusions inside columns or other kinds of geometrical supports. Primordial engravings, ancient signs of a lost art gratify my interest in some archaic motifs. I made my first wheel thinking of the Aztec calendar that had fired my imagination when I traveled to Mexico; on some of my columns there are ‘signs’ of a visit to Egypt, a revisitation of ancient hieroglyphics. In the future I would like to prepare an ‘archaic exhibition, following the languages of the Hittites, the Sumerians and the inhabitants of the Val Camonica. (A. Pomodoro, quoted by S. Hunter, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Milan, 1995, p. 76).

Beneath the luminous metal surface of his Spheres, exists another world all unto itself composed of an intricate technology that appears to be simultaneously archaic, futuristic and esoteric. The spherical works, with their glimmering sheen, recall Constantin Brancusi in the sheerness of the outer surface; yet, the cut-away areas revealing tooth-like crenellations which refer to machinery and the mechanical. Rather than a celebration of science, Pomodoro has presented this interior as a means of highlighting the modern obsession with and reliance upon technology. In his own words: “I once thought that my geometric sculptures with radical clefts inside of them were a way of testifying to the contradictions within the world in which we currently live. Now I feel that the geometries in my works include by implication the forms of abstract reason, and even of technological rationality, whereas the fissures correspond to the forms of the primitive, the unconscious, and the forces within matter itself. As I see it, the value to be found in these two things today lies precisely in their coexisting together side by side (A. Pomodoro, ibid., p. 26).

On a formal level, Pomodoro’s Spheres reveal the artist’s complex investigations into material and space. Long intrigued by the idea of using negative space to sculpt, an approach made clear in the nooks and crannies that are points of curiosity in the Spheres. Pomodoro used the lost-wax technique to sculpt the areas that will in fact be empty spaces in the final work, creating a strange and fascinating dichotomy, a tension and balance between the act of creation and the act of destruction. As in the work of his friend and supporter Lucio Fontana, the empty areas in Sfera are as vital to the work as the bronze areas. Indeed, the contrast between the highly-polished surface and the negative space of the void that is as intricate is what gives Pomodoro’s Spheres their mystery and intrigue.

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