Mario Schifano - Contemporary Day Sale London Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist in 1971
    Gian Enzo Sperone, Italy
    Private Collection, Italy

  • Catalogue Essay

    Untitled is one of Schifano’s distinguished Monochromi works, a pioneering series, which explores the challenges of painting at the time of the dominance of Minimal and Conceptual art.

    Framed in bold red, Untitled is constructed by sheets of paper glued onto the canvas and covered with white paint dripped and brushed onto the surface, intentionally leaving a space through which the untreated canvas is visible. Rendered in deliberate and gestural strokes of enamel paint, the highly tactile appearance of this lot demonstrates Schifano’s profound preoccupation with the nature of materials. Though the expressiveness masterfully achieved by his carefree textures, the artist explores the basic fundamentals of painting.

    This revolutionary body of work marked the artist’s emergence to the forefront of Italian painting as early as 1959 when he participated in a group exhibition at the Gallaeria La Salita alongside other artists from the Scuola di Piazza del Popolo, including Francesco Lo Sacio, Tano Festa and Franco Angeli. Giuseppe Bonini, an Italian influential critic, described Schifano’s Monochromi as ‘screens… of departure’ and ‘spaces of negated events’. The artist himself described these works as 'primal', 'signs of energy' and 'empty images' beyond 'cultural intention', highlighting their raw physicality which ‘[expresses] the idea of the emblematic, of street signs, of perceptual phenomena, of primal things. I thought that painting meant starting from something absolutely primal... I would paint works like this: with blue, with red, with yellow, with green these were signs of energy... with nothing in them, empty images that went beyond any cultural intention. They wanted to be only themselves'.

    Created in the early 1970’s, the present lot is a further development of his early monochromatic paintings in household enamels which he developed in response to his initial informel-inspired paintings. Memmo Mangini, Schifano's colourist who worked alongside the artist, identifies the enamel used in Untitled as 'Repolin' which was typically used by the artist in the 1960's. Thus, this painting is a glorious example of Schifano’s prolific career, emblematic of his prominent Monochromi series.



enamel on paper on canvas (in two parts)
181 x 300 cm (71 1/4 x 118 1/8 in.)
This work is accompanied by three separate certificates of authenticity issued by the Mario Schifano Foundation in 1999, the Archivio Mario Schifano in 2013 and Memmo Mangini (the artist's colourist and now the colour technician at the Archivio Mario Schifano).

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £122,500

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

Contemporary Day Sale

London Auction 3 July 2014 2PM