Mario Schifano - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, October 14, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'The landscapes are as if they had been analysed in a showcase, in a distant but near screen, before becoming imaginary: “anaemic”, because deprived of apparent life, or rather of a mimetic reproductive concept of the image.' —Luca Massimo Barbero 

    Executed with characteristic bold and uniformly layered bands of colour, Paesaggio anemico is a captivating example from Mario Schifano’s Passeaggio amemici series. The present work marks the introduction of the landscape genre into Schifano’s oeuvre which the artist started experimenting with in 1964, the year in which the present work was created and the year the artist exhibited a selection of landscape works at the Venice Biennale. Refining land, sky, and clouds to their absolute essential forms, Schifano captured their pure essence in rapid and expressive strokes using industrial quick drying enamel paint, conceding tangible paint drips to creep down the canvas. Schifano’s innovative use of unconventional art materials affiliated the artist with his Arte Povera contemporaries whose work developed later in the decade. 


    In the early 1960s, Schifano cemented his artistic reputation creating works such as his large abstract Monocromi (1960-1962) and Italian Pop paintings featuring Esso and Coco Cola logos. The artist’s works were included in the seminal 1962 exhibition ‘New Realists’ at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. His move to the traditional genre of landscape painting was audacious and radical in an era in which painting was starting to be deemed obsolete. Schifano’s contemporaries were rejecting expressionistic works that showed the artist’s hand and instead focused on objective works that held little connection to the conventional modes of painting. As the present work attests, the contentious move to landscape painting led to one of the most significant, inventive, and artistically fruitful periods of the artist’s career.


    It was during the mid-1960s that Schifano’s diverse interests were also explored through his intrigue in television and the moving image, considering it to be the future of painting. Like many of his canvases from this period which adopted a square television format, within Paesaggio anemico the landscape scene is framed within a round-cornered square, referencing the shape of the television screen. Contrasting paint drippings, gestural strokes and remnants of dirt emphasise the painterly characteristics and a horizontal and diagonal black sketched line geometrically divide the lower half of the composition.


    Through his landscapes, Schifano explored the limits of figuration and tested the materiality of untraditional paint. Reflecting on artist’s who have challenged the status quo in the landscape genre; Cézanne, Monet, Matisse, Schifano continues to push the boundary, playfully reinventing the norms in an energetic, vibrant, and rapidly changing post-war period. Paesaggio anemico serves as a postmodern reinterpretation of this centuries-old approach. Phillips are delighted to be bringing Paesaggio anemico to the market at a time in which the top thirty prices for Mario Schifano at auction have all been for works he made in the 1960s.


    Collector's Digest


    •    The present work is from Mario Schifano’s series of landscapes created in the mid-1960s that are presented within round-cornered squares, referencing the shape of a television screen.


    •    Phillips brings this work to market at a time when the top thirty prices for Mario Schifano at auction have all been for works he made in the 1960s.


    •    The Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA), New York, is currently staging an exhibition of early works by Mario Schifano that focusses on the years 1960-1965 (the period in which the present work was painted). Titled Facing America: Mario Schifano 1960-65, the exhibition is on 26 January-13 November 2021.

    • Provenance

      Galleria Ferrari, Verona
      Studio Marconi, Milan
      Private Collection
      Gió Marconi, Milan
      Sperone Westwater, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Milan, Fondazione Marconi, Schifano 1964-1970 Dal Paesaggio alla TV, 25 February - 30 March 2006, p. 37
      New York, Sperone Westwater, Mario Schifano Paintings 1960-1966, 11 January - 17 February 2007, p. 51 (illustrated)

    • Literature

      Mario Schifano: Una Collezione '60-'70, Milan, 1990, p.106 (illustrated)
      Ilka Scobie, 'A La Schifano', artnet Magazine, online, 2006 (illustrated)
      Fondazione M. S. Multistudio, Mario Schifano, Opere su tela 1956-1982, Vol I, Milan, 2007, no. 64/042 (illustrated, p. 67)


Paesaggio anemico

titled 'PAESAGGIO ANEMICO' lower centre; signed, titled and dated 'PAESAGGIO ANEMICO 64 Schifano' on the reverse
enamel on canvas, in artist's frame
165.5 x 118.4 cm (65 1/8 x 46 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1964, this work is registered in the Archivio Generale dell’Opera di Mario Schifano under no. 00416070320 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Full Cataloguing

£150,000 - 200,000 ‡ ♠

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Director, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art

+44 20 7318 4065
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 14 October 2021