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Emilio Vedova (1919-2006)
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Emilio Vedova (1919-2006)

Dal Ciclo della Natura N. 6

Details
Emilio Vedova (1919-2006)
Dal Ciclo della Natura N. 6
signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'E. Vedova 1953 Italia Dal Ciclo della Natura N. 6' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
57 x 75in. (145 x 190.5cm.)
Painted in 1953
Provenance
Spada Collection.
Galerie Zwirner, Köln.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1985.
Exhibited
Madrid, Palacio del Retiero, Exposicion de Arte Italiano Contemporaneo, 1955, no. 167 (with title Del ciclo de la naturaleza n. 6, p. 44).
Perth, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Italian Art of the 20th Century, 1956, no. 118 (p. 25). This exhibition later travelled to Adelaide, The National Gallery of South Australia; then Melbourne, The National Gallery of Victoria; then Hobart, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery; then Sydney, The National Gallery of New South Wales; then Queensland, The Queensland National Art Gallery.
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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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Barbara Guidotti
Barbara Guidotti

Lot Essay

‘Today we must make painting not “in the manner of so-and-so,” but painting that speaks of our times, our violence, our sentence to live: of these strong, aggressive things. We denounce those who, in good or bad faith, slow the course of an inevitable process, to which day after day we add another stone’
E. Vedova
(E. Vedova, ‘It’s Not So Easy to Paint a Nose,’ 1948, in Emilio Vedova, exh. cat., 2006, p. 126).

‘[Vedova] unfolds not quietly or tamely, but through collisions, frictions. He tears up the rules and reconstitutes the Gordian knot of painting. His itinerary is thus established by means of relationships of possibilities between hidden and manifest fragments. It is an intersection, a crossroads where linguistic freedoms are invented, clash and establish new relationships. One cannot mediate it or compose concatenations to situate it in the sphere of monumentality or to push it to a central area. As a multiform, mutable organism it admits no definition and is entirely independent of any transcription into space or time. To see it and follow it, would even a bird’s-eye view suffice?’
Germano Celant
(G. Celant, ‘The Vedova Archipelago,’ in I. Gianelli, ed., Emilio Vedova, exh. cat., Milan, 1998, p. 248).

Bursting with a vital, frenetic energy, Dal ciclo della natura N. 6 is an important early composition from Emilio Vedova’s œuvre and captures a sense of the artist’s dynamic approach to abstraction. While Vedova seemingly embraced the gestural freedom and the emphasis on material championed by Art Informale, his paintings from this period are marked by their complex orchestrations of abstract form combining energetic, gestural brushwork with Futurist lines of force. Highly charged, gestural strokes of pigment dance across the canvas, coalescing into an array of strange, half-formed elements that seem to simultaneously drift towards one another and pull apart in different directions, their movements governed by a mysterious internal gravity. Hovering on the brink of legibility, these elements are at once intensely suggestive and obscure, their true meaning remaining just beyond reach, each one shattered and dissolved by another form and another colour just as the viewer approaches the cusp of comprehension. And yet, there is a distinct sense of order and control within his compositions, tying these layers of seemingly spontaneous forms together. ‘If you look at the tension in my burning signs, it is easy to label them Informal!’ Vedova explained. ‘But that is superficial. These works are structured – and these are the structures of my consciousness’ (Vedova, quoted in Emilio Vedova, exh. cat., Frankfurt, 1989, unpaged).

Recalling this period of his life almost a decade later, Vedova explained that the Ciclo della Natura series, to which this composition belongs, had emerged as a direct response to his fascination with one of life’s most fundamental existential questions – the relationship between nature and mankind: ‘In May 1951, after staying in Ravello, Paestum, travelling around Switzerland, the glaciers – Zermatt… we went to a small wooden house, very isolated, above Santa Cristina in Val Gardena, to work – to probe a variety of problems – posing serious questions to myself… confrontations, levels of consciousness, to find an unexpected point of departure within myself… fundamentally, these were really a recovery of my most subterranean “quanta”; from them I was led mostly toward feelings about man and his relationships in nature, relationships found and perhaps always sought in an immediate plastic state…’ (E. Vedova, ‘Journal Excerpts, 1960’ in I. Gianelli, ed., Emilio Vedova, exh. cat., Milan, 1998, p. 34). Driven by this curiosity, Vedova entered a period of intense painterly investigation, experimenting with materials, colours and form in his canvases, as he searched for new possibilities of graphic expression.

Commanding a wide range of marks that appear like ciphers colliding and counterbalancing one another, and which, upon closer inspection, seem to almost vibrate with energy, Vedova convincingly conveys a powerful sense of a world held in a febrile state of balance in Dal ciclo della natura N. 6. It is this intrinsic, electric dynamism that set Vedova’s painterly style apart from the Abstract Expressionism of his American contemporaries, harking back to the paintings of the Futurists instead. However, rather than being a celebration of speed and the machine, of movement and modernity, Vedova uses this dynamism to articulate invisible elemental forces and express internal impulses, in his attempt to capture a sense of the drama, chaos and volatility of life in the post-war period. Vedova would later reach the apex of these investigations in the Plurimi, free-standing, irregularly shaped sculpture-paintings which were designed to invade the space of the viewer, forcing them to ‘enter the painting’, as Boccioni had once advocated.

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