Carol Rama (1918-2015)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Carol Rama (1918-2015)


Carol Rama (1918-2015)
signed and dated 'carol rama 1968' (lower right); signed 'carol rama' (upper left)
spray paint, enamel, ink and cigarette holders on card laid on board
27 3/8 x 21 1/8in. (69.5 x 53.8cm.)
Executed in 1968
Fondazione Giovanna Piras, Asti.
Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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 accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Archivio Carol Rama and registered under number 0150.

Lot Essay

‘I paint by instinct and I paint out of passion
And anger and violence and sadness
And a certain fetishism
And out of joy and melancholy together
And out of anger especially’

In Carol Rama’s Untitled, a fuzzy, monochrome apparition dissolves against a neutral zone of white. Spray-painted cigarette holders add a sense of physical depth, whilst the edges of the black mass are softened and an enamelled network of bubbles seem to spatter from its surface, so that the form appears to smoke or foam. Untitled is an excellent example of Rama’s assemblages, affirmed as bricolages by friend Edoardo Sanguineti, which were executed in the 1960s. Hovering between haunting figuration and formless abstraction, Rama’s contextual surroundings informed her works’ aesthetic style and implicit meaning. Whilst grounded in the fetishistic surreality prevalent throughout her entire œuvre, the present work addresses difficult issues relating to the Vietnam War. The charred blackness of what could be two skeletal legs enveloping a region of genitalia evokes incendiary disaster. However, this interest in organic substance is secondary to Rama’s intentions of manifesting a concrete physicality combined with what Anne Dressen has referred to as ‘the idea of formlessness’. ‘Rama struck’, Dressen notes, ‘recognisable objects in her paintings, but the matter is never absorbed by the image-object, nor is the image-object absorbed by the matter.’ (A. Dressen, ‘Foreign Bodies’, in The Passion According to Carol Rama, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, 2015, p. 42).

Rama’s bricolages deploy a wealth of unconventional media to create these ‘formless’ object-paintings. With plastic eyes, matchsticks, cigarette holders and syringes (beside a multitude of other found objects), Rama conjures optical Surrealist mutants, phallic blotches and abstract universes. Rama took her cues from the 1960s Arte Concreta movement in Turin, and Arte Povera, a term coined by Germano Celant to refer to unusual, readily available everyday materials utilised as media. Sanguineti, a close friend of Rama’s and a champion of her work, examined her bricolages according to Claude Lévi-Strauss’s use of the term. In The Savage Mind, Lévi-Strauss speaks of the bricolage as a means with which to organise, rearrange and reimagine the world, taking familiar objects and reordering them to construct new meaning. Dependent on psychoanalytical association, Rama selects her materials carefully, subverting and debasing them to project new interpretive diversions and unexpected imagery. In this untitled work, the hard, metallic shrapnel of the cigarette holders recalls gun bullets or some other military remnant, whilst the oozing black enamel flows organically like lava. This fetishistic extroversion challenges us to review recent history, whilst creating a novel and unimagined vocabulary of emotions, plunging us into a cosmos at once visceral, existential, and troublingly unpredictable.

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