Enzo Mari - Design London Tuesday, November 9, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Milan

  • Literature

    Francesco Leonetti, Enzo Mari, Filiberto Menna, Renato Pedio, Enzo Mari: Modelli del reale, exh. cat., Galleria Nazionale D'Arte Moderna di San Marino, Milan, 1988, p. 36 for a preliminary study

  • Catalogue Essay

    Enzo Mari: Painting as Research

    The present painting by radical Italian artist and designer Enzo Mari is one of his inceptive works in this medium. Executed in the early 1950s, while he was studying painting, sculpture and stage design at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, it can be considered an initial expression of the artist’s intent to explore the existing relationships between colour and volume. In his fundamental paper Funzione della ricerca estetica, written in 1970 as a reflexion on his artistic research method which began in 1952, he stated: ‘From my first experiments, I have noticed that the respective influences between colour and volume are noteworthy, and it seems entirely necessary to me to systematically make a note of their behaviours’. As an artist and designer, Mari’s reverence of and dedication to the creative process was a defined priority. The meticulous execution displayed in the present work through geometrical shapes, layout and contrast are a testament to this. Beyond its form, it appears to be a visual research output from which to make aesthetic hypotheses. Whether in investigative paintings or functional objects from his varied oeuvre of over 2,000 works, Mari strived for each of his creations to convey knowledge and grant viewers or users a certain independence. This mission was further exemplified in his 1960s involvement with the ‘Arte Programmata’, or kinetic art movement, comprising a group of young avant-garde artists including Bruno Munari, Getullio Alviani and Giorgio Soavi. The collective produced artworks they deemed democratic due to their capacity to elicit numerous individual interpretations. Enzo Mari’s long-term utopic ambition to implement a socialisation of art and design coincided with the group’s ethos and was rooted in his first explorations of that possibility through painting.



circa 1952
Tempera on masonite mounted on board.
100 x 100 x 3.3 cm (39 3/4 x 39 3/4 x 1 1/4 in.)
Reverse of frame inscribed ENZO MARI GENNAIO 1952. Front of frame with paper label inscribed enzo mari 52. Together with a certificate of authenticity from the Eredi Enzo Mari and the Galleria Massimo Minini.

£20,000 - 30,000 ‡♠

Sold for £46,620

Contact Specialist

Antonia King
Head of Sale, Design


London Auction 9 November 2021