This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal.…
Read moreWORKS BY GIACOMO MANZÙ FROM THE LAMPUGNANI NIGRI COLLECTION, MILAN(lots 11-14)The following four lots come from the private collection of Arrigo Lampugnani Nigri. The Nigri family commissioned numerous works by Giacomo Manzù ranging from sculpture and painting to bas-relief and sculptural design. Alice Nigri, Arrigo’s mother, was a protagonist and muse in hundreds of artworks by Manzù and the familial relationship with the artist permeates the collection. Giacomo Manzù defies categorization. Once called the “Heir of the Renaissance” sculptor, Manzù sought to infuse his work with both a highly figuration of reality whilst simultaneously projecting a dream-like state of being. Figures are often reserved and introspective in his art, but emotions simmer just below the surface; connection with the spirit and mystery of life emanates from within. “What is most important is the drive to create, which at times also gives the hope of perceiving the infinite. This is always the thought that accompanies our work, but it is a rare thing when the form preserves it”, Manzù said. Although known primarily for his depiction of Popes, Giacomo Manzù was secular and focused on spiritual truths that bind all of humanity together. In 1947 a competition opened to adorn two medieval wooden doors at the Vatican with bronze reliefs. After entering his first model, Manzù was one of twelve chosen to submit designs for the second competition, which he won. Manzù is seen as one of the great bas-relief sculptors in the history of art with roots that stem from Donatello, Berni and Cellini. With the completion of the reliefs for the “Door of Death” at the Vatican in 1964, Manzù will forever be judged by posterity in relation to the masters of the Renaissance. In addition to architectural bas-reliefs, Manzù also created for selected commissions a small number of functional sculptures in the form of tables and floor lamps. These objects can be seen as an extension to cast bronze still-lifes he created, depicting simple chairs draped with cloth and stacked with fruits or cuttings from a garden. Casa Lampugnani in San Remo provided an ideal backdrop to push even further beyond the confines of traditional figurative sculpture, entering the world of design and the built environment. A monumental bronze table base, in the form of a sweeping tree branch supports a glass top that hovers above it weightlessly. This masterpiece of sculptural furniture is one of two known variations of the form. Branches were a repeated theme in the work of Manzù, depicted as intertwined grapevines, laurel leaves and in some cases wheat. In his monumental bas relief for Rockefeller Plaza in New York, Manzù’s “Italie” depicts a heroic and symbolic gathering of grapevines and wheat stalks; symbolizing the basic elements of subsistence: wine and bread. Additionally, Manzù created tall lanterns (lots 12 and 13) for Casa Lampugnani. These large-scale “streetlights” are embellished with grape and laurel leaves, slightly diffusing the illumination within glass at the apex, while the minimal stem is given a simple ribbon as an accent. Each illuminated bronze sculpture rests solidly in a modernist base of onyx or marble, more akin to Brancusi than sculptures of the Renaissance. These works are not simply decoration, but rather elements in space that interact and animate the environment in which they reside. They channel the metaphysical and the spiritual while creating a nexus between nature and civilization. The works undermine our intuitive sense of scale, as lampposts shrink to fit into rooms and tree branches scale up to evoke a Lilliputian world. The human figure, always the chosen motif of the artist, is not absent in these works: it is the human inhabitants, the people who live and eat and converse amongst these designs, that become the art and the life and mystery that Giacomo Manzù sought to celebrate. WORKS BY GIACOMO MANZÙ FROM THE LAMPUGNANI NIGRI COLLECTION, MILAN
GIACOMO MANZÙ (1908-1991)
A RARE AND IMPORTANT TABLE, CIRCA 1956
GIACOMO MANZÙ (1908-1991) A rare and important table, circa 1956
cast bronze, original glass, rubber
cast by Fonderia Artistica MAF, Milan, Italy
33 x 90 ½ x 36 in. (83.5 x 230 x 91 cm.)
top of one branch signed in the cast MANZU
Lampugnani Nigri collection, Milan, acquired directly from the artist, circa 1956;
Thence by descent to the present owner.
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