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Giovanni Anselmo (b. 1934)
Giovanni Anselmo (b. 1934)

Invisibile (Invisible)

Giovanni Anselmo (b. 1934)
Invisibile (Invisible)
2 7/8 x 14 ½ x 4 ½in. (7.4 x 37 x 11.5cm.)
Executed in 1970
Aria Art Gallery, Florence.
Massimo Minini Gallery, Brescia.
Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2006.
Literature settanta/invisibile_06.asp (illustrated).
Gent, S.M.A.K, Giovanni Anselmo, 2005 (illustrated in colour, p. 31).
Catania, Fondazione Brodbeck, Biblioteca Civica Ursino Recupero, Palazzo Biscari, La materia di un sogno, 2013.
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 signed by the artist.

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Mariolina Bassetti
Mariolina Bassetti

Lot Essay

Giovanni Anselmo’s work repeatedly points to the fact that the world in which we live in is controlled and operated by vast immeasurable and ultimately invisible energies and forces. A key exponent of Arte Povera when it first emerged in Italy in the late 1960s, Anselmo has consistently made use of simple, elemental materials and forms to point beyond the material world to a wider, ineffable, reality of existence expressive of ever-present but usually, unseen forces and energies that govern and control the world. These are forces such as torsion, gravity, magnetism and perhaps most of all, time - often in the sense of what physicists refer to as ‘deep time’.
Using the simplest of means, Anselmo creates works of art that aim to serve as a kind of bridge between our understanding of an infinite cosmos and our daily, individual, human experience of the specific and the here and now. Deceptive in their apparent simplicity, his works present both a poetic and enlightening view of the human experience of the world as a unique, tense and febrile balance that is constantly being renegotiated between these two differing poles of understanding, between the fragment or detail and the whole, between the finite and the infinite, and, as in this work, between the visible and the invisible.
Invisible of 1970 is one of Anselmo’s earliest and most articulate invocations of the vast, unseen, infinite and unknowable realm of forces that govern our universe. It takes the form of a simple block of lead that Anselmo has stamped with the word ‘Invisible’. This block was then sawed into its current form as a fragment in such a way that only the word ‘visible’ remains. The implication is, therefore, that the letters ‘I’ and ‘N’ of the word ‘invisible’ are in some way still perceptible within the empty, invisible space around the lead block.
As he was also doing with projections of light through the lens of a slide projector at this time, (illuminating the words ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’), Anselmo was attempting to articulate the all-important, infinite, invisible realm of our world. And the only way to make this ‘invisible’ realm visible to us, as he has repeatedly pointed out, is through the finite, material, visible world of our daily reality. ‘I wanted to create an invisible work’ he said, and this you can do ‘only through the agency of the visible.’ (Giovanni Anselmo, quoted in Giovanni Anslemo, exh. cat. Basel, 1979, p. 24)
Implicit also, within this aging lead block articulating the relationship between the visible and the invisible, is also the notion of entropy and decay. Lead is one of the most durable of all materials and yet, within the wider context of ‘time’, and in particular the ‘deep time’ referred to by physicists, it too, like everything else, is but a fluid, fleeting, mutable material prone to decay and disintegration. The apparent partitioning in this work of the word ‘invisible’ into an invisible ‘In’ and an impression of the word ’visible’ in the soft surface of the work, is also intended to illustrate this dichotomy.
‘I, the world, things, life, we are situations of energy and the important thing is precisely not to crystallize these situations’ Anselmo has
said, ‘but keep them open and alive in terms of our living. Since all manners of thinking or being must correspond to a manner of behaving, my works are really the physification (sic) of the force behind an action, of the energy of a situation or event etc. and not its experience in terms of annotated signs, or just still life. (Giovanni Anselmo, ‘I, The World, Things, Life’ in G. Celant Arte Povera New York, 1969, p. 109)
In the wider context of the universal, ‘deep time’ of physics, therefore, our current perception of the solid, materiality, longevity and durability of this lead is inaccurate. This is because, in this context of ‘deep time’ and the apparent infinity of space, the apparent permanence of this lead block, with its stamped inscription, is little more than a fleeting moment. And this precious sense of temporality is also something Anselmo wishes to make visible in his work. As he said in 1973,‘recently I have been making works using the idea that they are either time, in a broad sense, or infinity, or the invisible, or everything, perhaps simply because I am an earthling and for this reason limited in time, space and specifics.’ (Giovanni Anselmo, ‘Interview with Mirella Bandini’, NAC no 3, Bari, March 1973, p. 4.)

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