Mimmo Rotella - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Claudio Abate, Rome
    Private Collection, Rome
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Milan, Palazzo Reale, Mimmo Rotella: Décollages e retro d'affiches, 13 June-31 August 2014

  • Literature

    Mimmo Rotella: Décollages e retro d'affiches, exh. cat., Palazzo Reale, Milan, 2014, no. 470, p. 307 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Fascinated by the metropolitan context of the Italian cities that were resurrected after the Second World War, Rotella embarked on an exploration of the fragmented hanging billboards and the broken plaster of the urban landscape.

    Like a contemporary archaeologist Rotella collected leftover posters displaying both, celebrated films of the time and political propaganda. Initially focusing on the reverse of the posters, still attached to the chunks of crumbling plaster, he presented gathered ‘trophies’ with the appearance of an informal, rough abstract painting.

    Later on, echoing the influence of American Pop Art, Rotella moved to the front of the collected imagery and started to create his most famous body of work the Décollage. Layering image upon image, the artist would then strip back the work, revealing specific parts of each of the underlying posters. The resulting image carries a melancholic patina, not dissimilar to an antique affiche, rather than the fresh, vibrant imagery of a recently released movie poster.

    The present lot is one of only a few examples were the artist addresses the scale cinematic screen. He does this by moving away from the more commonly seen Décollage pieces, created to be a similar size as the movie posters he was re-appropriating, and producing the current piece at a larger scale, alluding to the presence of the subjects as they appear on the silver screen.

    In this particularly balanced and harmonious composition, the artist is playing with those characters and movie stars that were captivating the imagination of both Italian and American audiences at the time. Rotella’s language is a combination of the Duchampian found object and Warhol’s celebrity subjects.

    In the present lot Rotella’s subjects all seem to be engaged in an improvised conversation; Rock Hudson with Kurt Douglas, Charlton Heston with Sofia Loren, all while Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra enjoy a shoot-out from one of their popular western movies. At the same time the actors names, and movie titles are working together as a sort of visual poetry.

    Due to the scale and popular complexity of its subjects, it is no coincidence that Rotella was to use a portrait of himself in front of this specific work, photographed by Claudio Abate, as the record sleeve for his 1975 sound piece Poemi Fonetici. Indicating that it is one of the most important works Rotella produced in the nineteen sixties.



décollage on burlap
203.5 x 223 cm (80 1/8 x 87 3/4 in.)

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £1,082,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm