This work is registered in the Fondazione Mimmo Rotella, Milan, under no. 0806 DC 960/000
The Fondazione Mimmo Rotella has confirmed the authenticity of this
'These powerful images that have emerged from the walls of Rome possess with respect to their original state, a de-mythologising super-presence. They have become more real than the myth they embody, more real than the reality they represent' (Pierre Restany, 1962, quoted in Germano Celant, (ed.) Rotella, Milan, 2007, p. 40).
Made from a torn film poster Ercole (Hercules) is a décollage made by Mimmo Rotella in 1960. After a brief period in the early 1950s studying, travelling, painting and reciting his own experimental sound poetry in America, Rotella returned to Rome where in the midst of the comparative poverty and depravation of the Italian post-war landscape he found inspiration in the fragmented and dilapidated popular imagery of the torn and weathered billboards on the Piazza del Popolo. Well aware of the current work of the American Abstract Expressionists, Rotella drew on these billboards to create roughly textured décollages whose own fragmentary and disorientating imagery seemed to echo both his sound poetry and the cultural landscape of post-war Europe.
Ercole is a work that derives from the beginning of a second phase in Rotella's décollages when the recognisable and iconic imagery of cinema and advertising began to dominate his work. In particular, images of Italian and American film stars. Indeed, it was Rotella's apparent fusion of the realism of life on the street and such 'mythologising' images of Pop culture at this time that drew him to the attention of Pierre Restany who in 1960 invited Rotella to join his 'Nouveau Réalistes', the group that he was then founding in Paris along with Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, and Arman.
At once both deconstructive and archeological Rotella's décollage seemed to lay bare and expose the apparently chaotic and accumulative flow of random matter in a world dominated by visual communication. Having initially focused on the texture of ripped posters and the expressive potential of their shredded surfaces, by 1960, he was paying more attention to the content and appearance of the original posters themselves. Here, for example, the glories of a once-glamorous movie poster are now seen through its new tattered state. The heroic muscular body of the male protagonist is now a wounded and ravaged figure that seems to speak of a strange tension between the seductive veneer of advertising and the gritty reality of life in a Post-War European metropolis.