Giovanni Anselmo (B. 1934)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRESTIGIOUS EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Giovanni Anselmo (B. 1934)

Torsione

Details
Giovanni Anselmo (B. 1934)
Torsione
concrete, wood and leather
overall: 38 3/8 x 41 3/8 x 26in. (97.5 x 105 x 66cm.)
base: 25¼ x 26 3/8 x 26 3/8in. (64 x 67 x 67 cm.)
Executed in 1968
Provenance
Sonnabend Gallery, Paris.
Acquired from the above in the 1970s and thence by decent to the present owner.
Literature
J. C. Ammann, Giovanni Anselmo, exh. cat., Basel, Kunsthalle Basel, 1979 (installation views illustrated, pp. 63-65).
J. C. Ammann, Giovanni Anselmo, exh. cat., Grenoble, Musée de Grenoble, 1980 (installation view illustrated, p. 40).
G. Celant, exh. cat., Identite Italienne: L'art en Italie depuis 1959, Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1981 (installation view illustrated, p. 34).
Giovanni Anselmo, exh. cat., Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1985 (installation view illustrated, p. 17).
F. Gualdoni, Giovanni Anselmo, exh. cat., Modena, Palazzini dei Giardini, 1989 (installation view illustrated, p. 34).
M. Bouisset, Arte Povera, Paris 1994 (installation view illustrated, p. 79).
G. Moure, Giovanni Anselmo, exh. cat., Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea, 1995 (installation view illustrated, p. 11).
C. Christov-Bakargiev (ed.), Arte Povera, London 1999 (installation view illustrated, p. 78).
Giovanni Anselmo, exh. cat., Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, 2005 (installation views illustrated, pp. 92-93).
I. Goetz, Arte Povera: Curated by Ingvild Goetz, exh. cat., New York, Hauser & Wirth, 2017 (installation views illustrated, pp. 63-65).
G. Celant, exh. cat., Ileana Sonnabend and Arte Povera, New York, Lévy Gorvy, 2017 (installation views illustrated, pp. 107-109, 114).
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Giovanni Anselmo, 1969 (illustrated).
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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Lot Essay

I, the world, things, life, we are situations of energy and the important thing is precisely not to crystallize these situations, but keep them open and alive in terms of our living. Since all manners of thinking or being must correspond to a manner of behaving, my works are really the physification (sic) of the force behind an action, of the energy of a situation or event etc. and not its experience in terms of annotated signs, or just still life.

It is necessary, for example, that the energy in a torsion live with its true force; it would not live, of course, only through its form…’

Giovanni Anselmo


Giovanni Anselmo’s work articulates the hidden, often unseen, forces and energies that determine and control the nature of the world we live in: forces such as gravity, magnetism, torsion, and above all, entropy and time. Torsione from 1968 is one of Anselmo’s best-known and most important works from the height of the Arte Povera period with which Anselmo is so associated. It is one of two versions of the work that Anselmo first exhibited at his first one-man-show held at the Sperone Gallery in Turin in 1969. Another version of this work, for example, is today housed in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

With its twisted leather straps cast firmly into a cubic cement base, Torsione is a work that epitomises Anselmo’s intention of making visible the innate and elemental functioning of hidden energies in material through his own physical interaction. In this case, Torsione represents what Anselmo has referred to as a ‘physification’ of the force or energy involved in the artist’s act of twisting the embedded leather straps to a point of no return using a wooden pole that he made especially for the purpose. By twisting the straps as far as he was able to make them go and then leaving the tightened wooden pole to lean taut, like a spring, against a nearby wall Anselmo’s energetic interaction with the materials of the work was left inherently visible in its resultant form. The weight of the cuboid cement base, the trapped, pent-up energy or torsion of the twisted leather straps and the overt physicality of the wall that freezes this action and holds its tension in balance all combine to simply and poetically make visible this energy through the innate nature of the materials involved. Here, therefore, as Anselmo has himself pointed out, the hitherto invisible energy of torsion has been made physically visible. ‘Torsion exists’, Anselmo has said, ‘not only by virtue of its form but also by virtue of the energy that it contains, which is not visible, but which in fact gives the work energy. It is there.’ (Giovanni Anselmo quoted in Johannes Meinhardt, 'Signs of a Fluid World. Giovanni Anselmo’s Indices of Energy process’ in Arte Povera from the Goetz Collection, exh. cat. Munich, 2001, p. 55).

Similarly, with its pent-up energy made visible and real, Torsione, also asserts itself as a counterpart to the situation of entropy that underpins the ultimate destiny of the world. Once installed, as Anselmo has observed, the work it is ‘not inert’ but effectively alive, since ‘the energy that is accumulated and contained [in it] both has a real action and exercises a “real” thrust against the walls. This situation is the opposite of entropy, and, to maintain itself over time, it must be constantly reactivated or “stirred” up’ (Giovanni Anselmo, 2006, quoted in Giovanni Anselmo exh, cat., Bologna, 2006, p. 214).

A memorable icon of Anselmo’s practice as a whole, Torsione is a work that has appeared with regularity at the majority of the most important the major exhibitions of arte povera since the late 1960s. In 1979, in one of the first published texts on Anselmo, Jean-Christophe Amman wrote of the artist’s two Torsione works that they signified a radically new approach to the whole idea of sculpture. ‘In both these sculptures energy is pent up’, he wrote. ‘It concentrated energy as image and reality. The winding process is a visible component of the result; but it would no doubt be wrong to say that the sculptures exist only as the result of a process. This they do indeed, but solely within the conditions created by the artist. Theses conditions (the idea) represent time after time what is most specific, and it is from this basis that Anselmo aims at what is conceptually of a general nature (here, for example, energy) and fuses it into a unity. If we speak of sculpture in this context, that does not mean for a moment that Anselmo feels he is a sculptor and that what he is really concerned to achieve therefore takes place within the setting of sculpture. The sculptural is simply the three-dimensional consequence of his employment of the means which give expression to this concern of his. If Anselmo were a sculptor who thought in sculptural categories, it is probable that a much more pragmatic approach to the individual works might be presupposed in the artist’s conception of them. Anselmo’s intuitive procedure within the concepts of the completest possible generality at which he aims shows that he draws on experience form life (or more explicitly, from the polarity of life and death), that categories do not exist for him, and that if they are to be related to concepts, the latter exhibit a degree of de-limitation, and that the whole themselves can never be an image of categories. This liberation of concept from its limits is consistent with intuitive discovery.’ (Jean-Christophe Amman, ‘Giovanni Anselmo’, in Giovanni Anselmo exh. cat., Basel, Kusthalle, 1979 reproduced in Giovanni Anselmo exh cat, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, 2016, p. 108).

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