Bianco

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  • Provenance

    Galleria D'Arte Del Naviglio, Milan
    Koelliker Collection, Milan
    Isabella del Frate Rayburn, New York

  • Exhibited

    London, Robilant + Voena, The Gallant Apparel: Italian Art and the Modern, 27 September - 27 October 2010 pp. 18, 19, 63 (illustrated, p. 19)
    London, Robilant + Voena, Agostino Bonalumi, All the Shapes of Space, 4 October - 15 November 2013, no. 95, pp. 101, 203 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Fabrizio di Bonalumi and Marco Meneguzzo, eds., Agostino Bonalumi Catalogo Ragionato, vol II, Milan, 2015, no. 335, p. 406 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘The synthetic quality of the new tensions created by Bonalumi (…), the space is reduced to a sign, a sign that represents the surface, and is a volume that leaves the rest void’ (Tommaso Trini, review of the exhibition of Bonalumi held at Galleria del Naviglio in 1967, Domus, Milan, February 1967).

    Quiet and discreet until the canvas’s all-consuming white meets a charismatic excrescence at its right margin, Agostino Bonalumi’s Bianco aptly falls within the Italian artist’s long-standing examination of tense space. Executed in 1967, the present work is paradigmatic of the artist’s celebrated Pittura Oggetto, whereby the painting becomes an object thus investgating the presence of both investigating the presence of both matter and void.

    Bonalumi, as a young student, was strongly influenced by the work of Lucio Fontana, whom he considered a mentor and inspiration. Fontana’s transcendence of the bi-dimensional canvas with his radical tagli and buchi (holes and slashes), as well as his invention of Spazialismo, inspired Bonalumi to similarly challenge flat pictorial surfaces. The artist thus began to fasten wooden or metallic frames at the back of his picture planes, stretching out or pulling in the pictures’ surfaces. As a result, these estroflessioni (shaped canvases) had the capacity to project perceptions beyond what was contained within the frame, transforming the meaning of the canvas itself – no longer a mere support for painterly applications but also a physical form, a tangible place, and a self-sufficient object.

    Bonalumi’s early estoflessioni, dating back to 1959, already materialised the artist’s conceptual meditations on space, yet remained somewhat uncertain in execution. Eight years later, the year Bianco was executed, marked a seminal moment in the painter’s career, during which he not only perfected his practice but also gained solid international recognition. Indeed, Bonalumi opened his first solo show at the Galeria Bonino in New York in 1967, whilst simultaneously participating in the São Paolo Biennal and the Biennale of Young Artists in Paris. The year before, he took part in the 33rd Venice Biennale together with Paolo Scheggi, exhibiting a selection of white monochromatic works.

    Bianco, as a standalone work, is physically impressive but also visually impactful. It immerses the viewer in a multisensory experience, as shadow and light alter and oscillate with varying positions. Playing with the tension existing between the work’s tranquil vinyl tempera surface and its sizable estroflessione, Bianco is a beautiful example of Bonalumi’s meditation upon the materiality of a canvas and the space that exists around it.

29

Bianco

signed and dated 'Bonalumi '67' on the reverse
vinyl tempera on shaped canvas
80 x 65.4 cm (31 1/2 x 25 3/4 in.)
Executed in 1967, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Archivio Agostino Bonalumi, Milan and is recorded under no. 67-019.

Estimate
£150,000 - 200,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £187,500

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 hhighley@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2018