GINO DE DOMINICIS (1947-1998)
GINO DE DOMINICIS (1947-1998)
GINO DE DOMINICIS (1947-1998)
2 More
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN LADY
GINO DE DOMINICIS (1947-1998)

Untitled

Details
GINO DE DOMINICIS (1947-1998)
Untitled
signed 'G. De Dominicis' (on the reverse)
gold leaf, chalk and tempera on board, in artist's box with glass
81 ½ x 19 ¾ x 9 5/8in. (207 x 50 x 24.5cm.)
Executed in 1996
Provenance
Private Collection, Milan.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Literature
Gino De Dominicis, in Flash Art International, Milan, June 2007 (illustrated in colour with incorrect title and date, p. 19).
I. Tomassoni, Gino de Dominicis Catalogo ragionato, Milan 2011, no. 498 (illustrated, p. 451).
Exhibited
Nice, Villa Arson, Centre National d’art contemporain, Gino De Dominicis, 2007. This exhibition later travelled to Turin, Fondazione Merz, Gino De Dominicis alla Fondazione Merz, 2007-2008 (with incorrect title and date); New York, P.S.1 MoMA Contemporary Art Center, 2008
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.

Brought to you by

Barbara Guidotti
Barbara Guidotti

Lot Essay

Included in the artist’s posthumous 2007-2009 retrospective, which travelled from Nice to Turin and then to MoMA P.S. 1, New York, Untitled (1996) is a powerful and enigmatic work by Gino De Dominicis: one of the most elusive characters of Italy’s post-war avant-garde. Elaborating on his early experiments with the idea of dematerialisation – Marina Abramovic remembers the moment that he sold an invisible artwork to a collector in 1969 – the artist’s late works incorporate silhouetted forms that appear something like the footprints or shadows of the gods: spectral traces of entities that have passed through our spatial and temporal sphere of understanding, leaving only clues to their existence. This idea befits the self-mythology of De Dominicis himself, who cultivated an aura of such magic and mystery that many assumed, on the news of his death in 1998, that it was just another of his existential jokes. In Untitled, a tall, vertical red figure is contained in a glass-faced box of shimmering gold, like a precious Byzantine icon. The figure’s body is no more than a flat, painted red stripe, while its head physically protrudes in a long, pointed beak, reminiscent of the cone-shaped mask of a plague doctor. The form is at once ancient and futuristic, elegant and unnervingly surreal, seeming to propose a meaning that lies permanently, tantalisingly beyond reach.

Rejecting conventional linear interpretations of time, De Dominicis maintained that true reality existed as an ‘eternal present’. His works seem to imagine the viewpoint of an immortal whose being far transcends the dimensions of human knowledge. ‘A glass, a man, a hen ... are not really a glass, a man, a hen’, he once said. ‘To truly exist, things would have to exist eternally, immortally. Only then would they be not only verifications of certain possibilities, but truly things’ (G. De Dominicis, quoted in C. Christov-Bakargiev, ‘Gino De Dominicis’, Flash Art International, December 1986, p. 127). This ideal of immortality became De Dominicis’ central artistic concern. Two mythical figures were closely woven into his aesthetic: Gilgamesh, the fabled Mesopotamian king who unsuccessfully sought immortality from the gods, and Urvasi, an apsara or heavenly nymph of surpassing beauty, who, according to some Hindu legends, is also a bestower of eternal life. They can be seen to stand as metaphorical guides to De Dominicis’ themes of beauty, immortality and man’s desire to perfect himself. In late works like Untitled, he explored these ideas by returning to the traditional techniques of the High Arts (arti maggiori) – namely sculpture – which he regarded as the key to a lost world of classicism and timeless splendour. Haunting and otherworldly, Untitled stands as if a guardian to some plane of hidden knowledge, seeming less made by man than to have arrived in its gold box like a miraculous vision, a holy relic, or the writing on Belshazzar’s wall.

More from Thinking Italian Art and Design Evening Sale

View All
View All