These three works include a very rare portrait that Michelangelo Pistoletto made for his friend Clino Trini Castelli, Portrait of Clino 1963 (above, estimate: €350,000–550,000), which is one of the first portraits painted on the mirror series called ‘velina’ whereby Pistoletto applied painted tissue paper onto a mirrored surface; Drawing 5 (1962), also by Pistoletto (estimate: €80,000-120,000), and Alighiero Boetti’s historic Emme I Elle Elle from 1970 (estimate: €120,000-180,000). They represent a cohesive and historically important collection of works, and a testament to the special friendship between Clino, Alighiero and Michelangelo.
At the same time, they represent a tribute to an entire period, echoing the cultural turmoil and transformations of artistic languages that the artists were a part of. Here, Head of Sale Renato Pennisi talks to Clino Trini Castelli about his collection, his work and his relationships with the artists.
Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933), Disegno 5, 1962. Pencil on paper. 66.2 x 48 cm. Estimate: €80,000-120,000. This work and those below are offered in our Milan Modern and Contemporary sale on 28 April
Renato Pennisi: When and how did you become interested in contemporary art?
Clino Trini Castelli: Very early on when I acquired Pistoletto’s Disegno 5 from Gian Enzo Sperone; I wasn’t even 18 years old. At that time, I was working for Fiat Style Center, and I was traumatised by the number of calculations required to trace the outlines and trim for manufacturing on giant steel moulds — we were not using the computer back then. I was looking for other figurative languages, free from the harsh nature of form. The first figures with whom I took on these themes were [Michelangelo] Pistoletto and soon after Piero Gilardi. Michelangelo was 11 years older than me and almost like a big brother: I met him in May 1963 at the Galleria Il Punto during the Disegni e Parole (Drawings and Words) exhibition. I met Boetti some years later, through his wife Anne Marie Sauzeau. With all of them, I immediately began a deep exchange, that lasted for years, and that was for me even more important than some of our collaborations. With Alighiero [Boetti] in 1969 we realised the Dossier Postale (Postal Dossier) — perhaps one of his most complex works — and the video-performance series Super 8 to which Turntables and Stella Performance belong.
Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994), Emme I Elle Elle, 1970. Vernice spray on wood. 35 x 34.7cm. Estimate: €120,000-180,000
Torino in the 1960s and early 70s: you found yourself at the center of a period that would have seen great transformations in the languages of art as much as design, you were a friend of artists and a subject of their works…how did everything start?
I was in Torino during the weekends but I had already moved to Milan at the beginning of 1964. I had completed the same relocation as Ettore Sottsass, with whom I really formed myself in those years. My relationship with Sottsass began with a comment, which surprised him very much, that I made on one of his articles for Domus magazine about New York Pop Art (I knew that theme very well also thanks to Ileana Sonnabend). One could say that, if Sottsass introduced me to design, art introduced me to Sottsass.
History shows us the way in which art and design have different aspects in common. Looking at certain works it is difficult not to ask oneself to which of the two environments they belong to. What pushed you to choose one discipline over the other?
What has always interested me is the renovation of plastic languages. If I chose design instead of art as a way of expressing myself it would be for its capacity in revealing the nature of the object in itself, contradicting most of the art of the second half of the 20th century which was tied to transmitting behavioral and conceptual values. During the 1970s I understood, for example, that the material could prevail over form, because of its intrinsic ability to communicate emotions that exceed the traditional formal composition. This intuition, however, formed halfway through the 1960s, also thanks to meeting Alighiero and Michelangelo, but above all, Dan Flavin. Flavin’s influence on my approach to design is evident, for example, in my projects realised at that time with luminescent laminates. Here also we were working with designing new materials rather than objects.
Main image at top, left: Clino Trini Castelli photographed with Michelangelo Pistoletto (B. 1933), Ritratto di Clino, 1963. Painted tissue paper on polished mirrored surface. 75.5 x 50cm. Estimate: €350,000-550,000
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