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Carol Rama (1918-2015)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, TURIN
Carol Rama (1918-2015)


Carol Rama (1918-2015)
signed and dated 'carolrama 1977' (on the stretcher)
tissue paper, tyre, pastel, tempera, cotton thread and metal hook on capote canvas
51 3/8 x 29 ½in. (130.5 x 75cm.)
Executed in 1977
Private Collection, Turin (acquired directly from the artist).
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011.
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.
Post Lot Text
This work is registered in the Archivio Carol Rama, Turin, with no. 0573, and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

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Mariolina Bassetti
Mariolina Bassetti

Lot Essay

Rich in mysterious symbolism, Untitled is an exquisite example of the potent mixed media collages that occupied Carol Rama for much of the 1970s. Hinting at the obsessions and images that haunted her throughout her life, these visceral canvases, created using an assemblage of found materials, represent dynamic expressions of the fears, fetishes and compulsions that underpinned Rama’s uniquely subversive visual language. Emphasising the seductive materiality of the array of different textures within the composition, from the capote fabric used as her canvas, to the cold metal sheen of the hook and the highly tactile rubber tubes which dangle suggestively in the centre, Untitled teases us with its sensuous nature, its tactile surfaces at once inviting our touch and repelling us with its highly suggestive eroticism. Indeed, freed from their functional context these materials become uncanny, their lifeless, abstract forms carrying an eerie, subliminal reference to the human body.

A key feature of Rama’s work during the 1970s was her adoption of the inner tubes of bicycle wheels, a reference to the rich, sensual memories of her childhood spent in her father’s factory, which produced automobile parts and bicycles. Describing her fascination with the material, Rama stated: ‘Tires have given me much joy. Tires remind me of my father, the factory, they remind me of power. But then this is not completely true because they were bicycle tires without much importance’ (Rama, quoted in H. Christofersen & M. Gioni, Carol Rama: Antibodies, exh. cat., New York, 2017, p.168). Indeed, the tubes which made their way into Rama’s artworks were often scavenged from bicycle repair shops and garages, second-hand objects replete with temporary puncture patches or unique marks of wear and tear, signs of their previous life which Rama not only embraced, but treasured. Cutting the tubing into varying lengths, she often stretched the rubber out into flaccid lines of hollow piping, dangling them from her canvases in clusters that emphasise their inherent plasticity. Appearing at once lifeless and animated, these strange objects carry a sense of bodily fleshiness with them, completely at odds with the industrial, functional nature for which the tubing was intended. It was this aspect that Rama sought to emphasise, stating ‘I used that material because it represented the colour of the skin, it was flesh, it was sensual to the touch, it was erotic!’ (Rama,quoted in G. Curto, ‘Carol Rama. Artist, not Personage,’ in G.Curto & G. Verzotti (eds.), Carol Rama, exh. cat. Turin, 2004,p. 38).

It was not only the raw materiality of these objects which inspired Rama to incorporate them into her work, but also the potential intrigue they held, what she described as ‘the jolt of dismay and eroticism that they bring into domestic life’ (Rama, in L. Vergine, ‘Anxiety is a Trip: Interview with Carol Rama,’ reproduced in op. cit., p. 39). Another key example of this lay in the penis-shaped metal hanger that the rubber tubes are draped from, a frequent feature of Rama’s assemblages during the 1970s. The provocative item was modelled on a curious iron object that Rama had received as a gift from Pablo Picasso during a visit to the artist’s studio. According to Rama, towards the end of the visit Picasso invited her to take a small souvenir home with her. Bypassing the paintings and drawings that filled the space, she made a beeline for this small, phallic-shaped metal rack, which he apparently used to the hang rags for cleaning his paint brushes on. The object was placed above the radiator in Rama’s apartment where it remained until her death, hung by a thin leather strip from a chord pinned to the wall, so that the iron hanger dangled freely, casting its suggestive shadows on the stark walls behind.

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