Arnaldo Pomodoro - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, October 13, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "I wanted to suggest that the misuse of our technology could destroy mankind. Man can make ultimate war today just sitting at a table, pushing buttons, as we know so well. The situation creates a sense of aggravated discomfort."
    —Arnaldo Pomodoro
    The innate perfection of shape in Arnaldo Pomodoro’s Sfera instantly arrests the eye. Appearing weightless, its immaculate circular forms deny it from perceptively touching the pedestal’s surface, as it hovers like some mythical apparition or device from another planet. But, as we are consumed by the highly finished bronze surface which radiates with gold, we notice a disparate inner core made up of geometric forms which disturb the symmetry of its outer domes. Purposefully left unpolished, the convoluted nucleus appears rough and darker, as its shade almost seems to ingest the gleaming shine of its exterior skin. Like a golden orb housing an underground, automated civilisation which has just been smashed open by a sledgehammer, this sculpture evokes both existence and destruction. And indeed, Pomodoro’s use of the time-honoured ‘lost wax’ casting process ties the work to thousands of years of creation and the countless cultures which have been erected and later dissolved.

     

    Pomodoro, who was born in the small Italian village of Morciano, in the region of Romagna, began training in a variety of pursuits. He studied architecture and engineering at the Geometry Institute in Rimini, worked as an architectural consultant in Pesaro and then as a goldsmith and set designer, a diversity of expertise which lend his sculptures freedom in construction not achieved by most. He later moved to Milan, where he met artists such as Enrico Baj, and committed himself to sculpture, creating bronze reliefs inspired by the abstractions of Paul Klee, an artist whom he had read about since an early age. After moving on to more dynamic, three-dimensional pieces, and inspired by the space race, especially the perfection in form of the Sputnik satellite, he started constructing his first spherical works in 1963, icons of 20th century and contemporary sculpture for which he is best known. Compared to many of these pieces, which are monumental in scale, Sfera allows for a more private and intimate viewing experience. Created in 2013, it is a contemporary piece which exhibits the culmination of Pomodoro’s perfection of his discipline through its sleeker, more lustrous surfaces and unified composition which afford it a more futuristic essence.

     

    Constantin Brâncui, The Newborn, 1920.
    Constantin Brâncui, The Newborn, 1920, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022

    "The perfection of form in Brancusi was so beautiful and mysterious… at a certain moment I said to myself, really this perfection of the form in our time is inappropriate; it has to be destroyed. For me the ‘destruction’ element was my most important discovery, and the most authentic both in terms of myself and my times."
    —Arnaldo Pomodoro

    Pomodoro’s work enters a rich dialogue with other 20th century masters, many of whom were his peers. He was inspired by the spatial concepts of Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein, qualities witnessed in Sfera with its slashing of the orb’s pristine surface and the work’s exploration of negative space where light is allowed to enter and is subsequently manipulated, creating a cavernous realm into which the viewer enters. After his first visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1959, he left enlightened by the works of Constantin Brâncuși for their highly refined surfaces which elicit mystery and timelessness. However, in the aftermath of the World War and during the Cold War, he did not see their excellence in finish as suitable to the modern world and chose to indoctrinate his work with another influence from this visit, the work of Jackson Pollock. He thus infused the gestural abstraction of the Abstract Expressionists, seen in the more erratic, asymmetric centres of his spheres, with the flawless planes seen in Brâncuși’s sculptures, to ultimately create a universal symbol of the world.

     

    Sfera is one such icon which alludes to the ubiquitous dichotomies of not just our contemporary society but our mother planet in its entirety; the imperfection of modern society and the faultlessness of the natural world, restoration and annihilation, scientific progress and climactic regress. Its mechanical core implies a world rotting at its centre, infected by industrial and technological growth, whilst the position of the central haloed band to the uppermost dome resembles a nuclear mushroom cloud. The sculpture epitomises global tension, as the piercing crevices which enter the smoothed surface seem at the point of splitting further the serenity of the pure world, separating mankind from its place of birth even further.

     

    Since winning both the São Paulo Biennial and Venice Biennale in 1963 and 1964, Pomodoro has enjoyed an incredibly long career in the spotlight. The charged nature of his spherical sculptures, the fact that they encompass worldly themes, means that they are included in places most artists cannot reach. Examples of these reside at The Vatican, the United Nations Headquarters, in New York, and the Italian Parliament, as idols of contemporary sculpture which will most definitely survive us all.

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

166

Sfera

signed, numbered and dated 'Arnaldo Pomodoro 2013 2/8' on the underside
bronze
sphere 60 cm (23 5/8 in.)
including base 68.6 x 60 x 60 cm (27 x 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in.)

Executed in 2013, this work is number 2 from an edition of 8. This work is number 893 in the archives of the Fondazione Pomodoro.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£300,000 - 400,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £315,000

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey

Specialist, Associate Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+44 20 7318 4084

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 13 October 2022