Agostino Bonalumi - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired by the present owner, c.1996

  • Catalogue Essay

    My work has never been about indulging a material for the sake of it. It’s the result of an active interest in materials themselves, the intelligence of materials’. (Bonalumi, quoted in C. Basualdo, ‘Agostino Bonalumi: Form and Appearance’, pp. 9-11, in F. Pola, Agostino Bonalumi: All the Shapes of Space, 1958-1976, Milan, 2013, p. 9)

    Agostino Bonalumi pioneered the ‘shaped canvas’ nestling his place within the Italian avant-garde. Captivated and inspired by the new colours and materials that were being produced in the 1960s for industrial means, Bonalumi began testing the malleability of the canvas in his Quadrioggetto series. He utilised circular and rectangular shapes as well as a diverse spectrum of colours - namely, white, blue, yellow, black, green and red.

    Rosso, 1966 is a striking example of the artist’s progressive style and experimentation with the canvas itself. Developing what he termed Extrofexsions, Bonalumi produced geometrical constructions that extended out of the picture plane and disrupted the traditional representation of painting. This method leaned towards a Minimalist conceptual process and was distinct from his previous work which appeared more gestural. The warm burgundy colour that emerges in the present lot is one of pure transcendence. The manipulation of the canvas creates a sense that it has been animated by an enigmatic presence that hides behind it. Such an impression is created with Bonalumi’s use of the shaped relief and concealed materials. These materials have been pressed against the back of the canvas creating the three-dimensional quality. The result is one that generates a beautiful relationship between light and shadow, further creating depth to the overall piece. The oval bulges on either side of the canvas resemble the shape of red blood cells with their indented centre. The blood cell analogy is further emphasized by the use of colour chosen by the artist. The bulges also provide an innovative form of geometric patterning. By altering the structure of the original canvas, Bonalumi produces a new sense of space that charms the viewer to become curious in knowing the process behind its creation.

    Rosso, 1966 encapsulates the symmetrical simplicity and purist aesthetic present in the work of Bonalumi. There is a sense of tension created in this work, as it stands curiously in suspension. His works are compelling as they challenged the conventional way of looking, which allowed the viewer to perceive and inspect canvases in an original and innovative manner.



vinyl tempera on shaped canvas
190 x 130.5 cm (74 3/4 x 51 3/8 in.)
Signed and dated 'Bonalumi 66' twice on the reverse. Further inscribed 'Bonalumi, quest'opera é mia autentica' on the reverse.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity provided by the Bonalumi Archive and is registered under archive number 66-094.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £206,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm