Domenico Gnoli's Fahrstuhl (L'Ascenseur) executed circa 1967 presents a strong example of the artist's characteristic exploration of scale and imitation of reality, dating from a prolific period of the artist's career before his untimely death in 1970.
Often drawing from the quotidian objects from his surrounding, the present lot belongs to a group of works which depicted the elevator from his home on Via Arenula in Rome, where he lived with his wife. However, unlike Femme de dos dans l'ascenseur (1964) for example, in Fahrstuhl (L'Ascenseur), Gnoli offers a representation devoid of any context of human presence and in doing so, the monumental scale and semi-photorealistic accuracy of its representation induces a timeless atmosphere. We are thus drawn into the subject as if the emptiness of the space is waiting for someone or something to arrive.
Adopting a characteristic frontal perspective, Gnoli conveys a real sense of depth through the use of lines, shadows and delightful articulation of light that is evocative of the techniques adopted by the Italian Masters, whom he greatly respected. As a result, the elevator, with its open doors, becomes inviting as a portal into Gnoli's re-evaluation of reality. 'You begin looking at things, and they look just fine, as normal as ever; but then you look for a while longer and your feelings get involved and they begin changing things for you and they go on and on till you don't see the [object] any longer' (Gnoli, quoted in "Appunti per un testo incompleto, 1968", in W. Guadagnini, Domenico Gnoli, Milan 2001, p. 13). By standing in front of the Fahrstuhl (L'Ascenseur), we are prompted to contemplate a sense of philosophical existentialism, a notion of a sense of solitude, while the open top shaft of light, breaking through the dark shadow, acts as a beacon to the stretch off into existential infinity.
The artist's use of sand within the picture surface introduces a tangible materiality to Fahrstuhl (L'Ascenseur) which deliberately disrupts the suspension of disbelief associated with the quasi-trompe-l'oeil realism Gnoli has used. In this way the artist deftly and playfully emphasizes this work's status as an image, a representation, an inviting fiction.