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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY OF A NOBLEMAN

Superficie bianca

Superficie bianca
signed, titled and dated 'Enrico Castellani - Superficie bianca - 1983 -' (on the overlap)
acrylic on shaped canvas
59 x 59in. (150 x 150cm.)
Executed in 1983
Galerie Apicella, Bonn.
Galleria Dante Vecchiato, Padua.
Private Collection, Italy (acquired from the above in the 1990s).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 22 June 2007, lot 115.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
R. Wirz and F. Sardella, Enrico Castellani. Catalogo ragionato, Tomo secondo, Opere 1955-2005, Milan 2012, p. 467, no. 542 (illustrated, p. 466).
Bonn, Galerie Apicella, Dialogue, 1984 (illustrated, p. 13).
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.
Further details
This work is registered in Archivio della Fondazione Enrico Castellani, Milan, under no. 83-009, and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

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Lot Essay

Part painting, part architectural intervention, Superficie bianca is a superb example of Enrico Castellani's ground-breaking Superfici or ‘Surfaces’. Created in 1983, one year prior to his exhibition at the 41st Venice Biennale, the work captures the elemental forces which govern our existence. These dynamic, rippling works were created by stretching a monochromatic canvas over a lattice of nails, resulting in a mesmeric distortion that revels in the complex interplay of depth and façade, absence and projection. In doing so Castellani toyed with traditional divisions between painting and sculpture, landing upon a format in which he could explore the physical manifestation of space and light. ‘The need to find new modes of expression is animated by the need for the absolute', he declared. 'To meet this requirement, the only possible compositional criterion is that through the possession of an elementary entity—a line, an indefinitely repeatable rhythm and a monochrome surface’ (E. Castellani, ‘Continuità e nuovo’, Azimuth, No. 2, Milan 1960, n.p.).

Castellani began experimenting with his Superfici during the late 1950s, and methodically pursued this format over the next five decades. The series served as the material response to the artist’s call—first voiced in the radical art journal Azimuth which Castellani cofounded with Piero Manzoni—for an art based solely on the concepts of time, space, and light. Determined to wrest art away from illusionistic representation, Castellani sought to rid his canvases of subjectivity and figurative imagery. This almost dogmatic ascetism can be seen in the white austerity of Superficie bianca: as Castellani declared, ‘A white empty surface is the most abstract thing one can possibly imagine’ (E. Castellani, quoted in Enrico Castellani, exh. cat. Fondazione Prada, Milan 2001, p. 17).

The Superfici stand among the most important works to emerge from post-war Italy, taking their place alongside Manzoni’s Achromes and Lucio Fontana’s tagli. Whereas painting once functioned as a mirror to the world—a site onto which reality could be arrested—these artists transformed the flat pictorial plane into a self-defining object. ‘The surface,’ Castellani wrote, ‘which has, on various occasions, described, alluded and suggested, and has been the scene of idylls, dramas and raving, is now silent’ (E. Castellani, quoted ibid., p. 16). As well as chiming with the aesthetics of the ZERO movement in Northern Europe, the Superfici also served as an important influence on the development of Minimalism in America, whose proponents similarly sought an autonomous existence for art. In their quest to achieve aesthetic neutrality, Castellani’s Superfici offered a new means to strive for the infinite, eloquently embodied in the present work's pure, undulating expanse.

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