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Giovanni Anselmo (b. 1934)
Verso L'infinito (Towards Infinity)
incised (on the top side)
incised varnished iron
5 7/8 x 15¾ x 7 7/8 (15.1 x 40 x 20.2 cm.)
Executed in 1969.
Galerie Durand-Dessert, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1980
Giovanni Anselmo, exh. cat., Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, 1995, no. 35 (illustrated, p. 95).
Modena, Galleria Civica, I Rassegna Biennale delle Gallerie di Tendenza Italiana, 1969.
Basel, Kunsthalle Basel, Giovanni Anselmo, 1979 (illustrated, p. 81). This exhibition later travelled to Eindhoven, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum.
Grenoble, Musée de Grenoble, Giovanni Anselmo, 1980 (illustrated, p. 55).
Paris, Musée d' Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Anselmo, 1985, no. 10 (illustrated, p. 43).
London, Hayward Gallery, Gravity & Grace: The Changing Condition of Sculpture 1965-1975, 1993 (illustrated, p. 46).
London, Tate Modern, Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera 1962-1972, 2001-2003, no. 9 (illustrated, p. 183). This exhibition later travelled to Minneapolis, Walker Art Centre; Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art and Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Barcelona, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Public Space/Two Audiences--Works and Documents from the Herbert Collection, 2006 (illustrated, p. 71).
Graz, Kunsthaus Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Inventur Works from the Herbert Collection, 2006 (installation view illustrated in colour, pp. 46 and 48).

Lot Essay

Verso l'infinito (Towards Infinity) is one of an important series of iron works that Giovanni Anselmo made at the height of his involvement with 'arte povera' in the late 1960s and in which time, space and the eternal laws of physics have been co-opted by the artist into his creative act. Comprising solely of a solid block of iron onto which the small incision of an arrow pointing towards the mathematical sign for infinity has been engraved, the work at first sight looks like a Minimalistic formal statement of the kind then commonly being pioneered in America. As with all of Anselmo's work however, following his moment of epiphany on the slopes of the volcano Stromboli when he observed a morning sunrise projecting his shadow away from the fixed temporal domain of the earth and 'towards the infinity' of the sky, this work is a pointer to the invisible and eternal forces of physics and of nature at work within the world - forces that shape all human concept of space, form and time.

There is little that can seem more solid, more permanent and immovable to the human eye than a solid block of iron, and yet, as the delicate inscription Anselmo has set into this work indicates, this supposedly fixed block is, like all life, set in a constant state of flux and disintegration. It is the artist's own inscription in the work itself, that is, paradoxically, in fact the most permanent element of this work. For over the entire block Anselmo has placed a varnish of grease. As in other works from this time such as the appropriately entitled Per un' incisione di indefinite migliaia di anni (For an Incision in an Indefinite Number of Thousands of Years) the application of the grease is intended to ensure that, if the work were to continue being tended over thousands of years, oxidation would rust and decay the iron block from within so that the very last remaining part of this solid block would be Anselmo's own inscription describing the work's journey towards dissolution and infinity. Acting as a kind of meditative bridge between such a visible and invisible world, the work is, as Anselmo has said, ultimately one that 'continues itself', 'like a drawing which others will continue at the end of my life etc. and ultimately, 'a work that... is directed against death (and) against time which is determined by man and limited by man' (Giovanni Anselmo, quoted in Giovanni Anselmo, exh. cat, Muse de Grenoble, 1980, pp. 18-19).

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