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Franco Angeli (1935-1988)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Property From an Important Italian Private Collection
Franco Angeli (1935-1988)

Fiore Partigiano (Partisan Flower)

Franco Angeli (1935-1988)
Fiore Partigiano (Partisan Flower)
signed, titled and dated 'Fiore Partigiano Angeli 1962' (on the reverse)
enamel, acrylic and plaster on canvas and toile
47 3/8 x 55 1/8in. (120.3 x 140cm.)
Executed in 1962
Galleria La Tartaruga, Rome.
Plinio De Martiis Collection, Rome.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1990s.
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
The work is registered in the Archivio Franco Angeli, Rome, under no. P-230617/1119 and is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity.

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Mariolina Bassetti
Mariolina Bassetti

Lot Essay

‘Having broken with the model of Burri and Arte Informale, through the thin but tenacious veil of material, Angeli patiently recovers — interrupting his work thousands of times, losing the trace and immediately reacquiring it — the ‘forms’ of his feeling. This is a difficult undertaking since once form is grasped, it dissolves, and all that is left is the impalpable aura: dust from wings, nostalgia ‘absence’. And it is this ‘absence’ of a form so acutely mourned and so mercilessly denied by the mesh in which Angeli wants to enclose it that emerges on the surface of the painting. A shiver: a life that timidly drives us on and is worn out in silence. Not ‘things’, but the tears of things’

‘It is the paradigm of erasure, involving materials and screen, that is at the root of a new image, as a kind of reaction to the invasive overabundance of the image and Roman iconophilia’

Executed in 1962, Fiore Partigiano (Partisan Flower) is an early, monochrome work by Franco Angeli, one of the leading members of the later-named Scuola di Piazza del Popolo, a group of artists living and working in Rome in the early 1960s. Politically active from an early age, and a member of the Campo Marzio Communist party in Rome in the 1950s, Angeli instilled his art with a distinctly political aspect, of which the present work is among one of the earliest examples. The title, Fiore Partigiano, is a line from O Bella Ciao, the famous anti-fascist Partisan song that rose to prominence in Italy in the 1950s and 60s. This emotive song became a powerful symbol of resistance, a hymn for those who fought against the Nazis after the fall of Mussolini’s government in 1943. Just visible behind the veil of gauze that covers the monochrome surface, adorned in places with splashes, drips and areas of impastoed white paint, is a hammer and sickle – an instantly recognizable Communist symbol first used during the Russian Revolution. Angeli would continue to use these powerful political symbols in his art, with swastikas, red stars and national flags proliferating, and often veiled.
Self-taught, Angeli was exposed in the late 1950s to the work of Alberto Burri. Seeing how Burri manipulated and repurposed the ubiquitous materials of everyday life – sacking, wood, or plastic – to create a new form of art, Angeli likewise immersed himself in the artistic potential of materials as he moved away from the influence of the Informel. In Fiore Partigiano, the surface of the canvas is covered in a fine layer of gauze, a material that would remain central to Angeli’s practice throughout the 1960s. Having worked in both a laundry and an upholstery shop in his youth, he had been exposed to the tactile potentials of these synthetic textiles from an early age, and integrated these materials – particularly nylon, toile and gauze – into both his abstract and representational images, creating semi-transparent screens that seem simultaneously to conceal as well as reveal. In the present work, the layer of gauze casts a veil over the hammer and sickle behind, blurring the boundaries between image and object, sign and symbol. The amorphous, powdery accumulations of white paint hint at an image lurking beneath the surface of the work, or, as critic Cesare Vivaldi wrote, there are, ‘hints of forms, attempts at forms, spasms of dulled paint-matter unable to be configured in definitive forms’ (C. Vivaldi, quoted in L. Massimo Barbero, Imagine: New Imagery in Italian Art, 1960-1969, exh. cat., Venice, 2016, p. 34).

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