Executed in 1960, Lo splendore di Columbia is a décollage of several cinema posters from the street walls from the man most often credited with pioneering that technique. This is a collage created by chance, the weather, the change in films and in tastes and in the season as much as it has been created by Rotella himself. These layers have accrued and accreted and have become witnesses in their own right to the changes on the street and the changes of taste. Seeing this testimonial of city-life, which itself has an abstract quality and a clear aesthetic attraction in its Informel celebration of the everyday world, it is clear why, the year after it was created, Pierre Restany invited Rotella to join the Nouveau Réaliste movement.
In Lo splendore di Columbia, the glories of these once-glamorous posters have been chased away in their new torn and tattered state, creating a strange tension between the Hollywood veneer celebrated in the title and the gritty reality of life in the Post-War metropolis in Europe. This is poster-presentation for an age that has seen the Atom Bomb, and the graffiti texture of the décollage also recalls the devastation wrought by weapons in cities throughout the world less than two decades earlier. At the same time, it has a raw and stark beauty that combines both the abstraction and the sense of gesture, of déchirage, and the lingering forms of the Hollywood films being advertised. Initially, Rotella's works had focussed on the texture of the posters, on the visual appearance of the shredding, the sense of fading and violence and layers. But it was in 1960, the year that Lo splendore di Columbia was executed, that he began to pay more attention to the formal appearance of the posters themselves, using them to create a more specific aesthetic effect.
Intriguingly, this effect has resulted in it being clear that one of the posters in Lo splendore di Columbia was advertising Otto Preminger's film Exodus of the same year. Starring Paul Newman, this film charted the voyage of the refugee ship Exodus 1947 and the changes that ensued as a result of its being turned away by the British who held the mandate in Palestine at the time-- in short, Exodus charted the foundation of the modern state of Israel. Its presentation here, half masked by the torn and rent fraction that is on display, itself reflects the strife that both preceded and followed that historical moment. Neither celebration nor condemnation, Lo splendore di Columbia is an inscrutable witness, a passive element from the background placed into a frame and converted into a mirror for our own reflection and understanding of history and its implications.