Mimmo Rotella - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleria La Tartaruga, Rome
    Studio Santandrea, Milan
    Tettamanti Collection, Milan (1971)
    Sold, Christie's, Milan, Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, 21 May 2007, lot 402
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Warsaw, Zachete Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cento opere d'arte italiana dal Futurismo ad oggi, March 1968, no. 72, then travelled to Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (December 1968-January 1969)
    London, Luxembourg and Dayan Gallery, Nouveau Realisme, 19 June-11 August 2012

  • Literature

    A. Predilezioni, Tre decenni di avanguardia dalla raccolta di Riccardo Tettamanti, Milan, 1988, n.p. (illustrated)
    Nouveau Réalisme, exh. cat., Luxembourg and Dayan Gallery, London, 2012, p. 12 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The French word décollage can mean both the undoing of a collage, and the take-off of something from the ground. Hence, the word signifies at once something de- and constructive. As Alberto Fiz comments in The Torn Space, Mimmo Rotella’s work contributed to the creation of a 'new language' through décollage, and the present lot is a passage written in it.

    As with many valuable creations, Rotella’s aesthetic of 'Nouveau Réalisme' was motivated by an urgent disillusionment with former circumstances. Rotella believed that art had become 'detached' from 'reality'; that artists could now only survive by reproducing - in a hypocritically controlled, rational, and financially-conscious way - Abstract Expressionist works that presented as the products of chaos and irrationality. In response, Rotella’s work constituted a ‘return to reality’ for him and those around him; which reality was, in 1950s and 1960s Rome, suffused with the political and ideological images of post-war Western mass-culture.

    The poster was invented at the end of the nineteenth-century with the expansion of the market for manufactured goods, whose conditions of manufacture were facilitated by the Industrial Revolution. From the outset, the poster both directed and created desires. If we agree with Lacan that the object of desire is the object we are anxious to lose or never to get, and hence that anxiety and desire are mutually-entailing, it follows that the poster both directs and creates anxieties. Immediately after its introduction into mainstream society, the relationship of the consumer to the poster was both tense and passionate.

    Whereas Warhol fetishizes the image in a celebration of mass-culture, Rotella violently lacerates and reconstructs it. Rotella’s laceration of posters metonymises the huge range of strong, visceral relations in which the spectator stands to the spectated. Rotella’s is a kind of red-blooded, frantic pop art; the de- and reconstruction of images is carried out by heart and head at once. Indeed, Rotella characterises his work in charged terms as 'the only revenge, the only protest against a society that has lost its taste for change and mind-blowing transformation.' (Rotella - Germano Celant, Skira, 2007). The revenge is personal, the protest is public; these domains are deliberately united in the work.

    There is even an extent to which Rotella’s gesture is the artistic gesture par excellence: the artist always tears from the public space a set of signifiers historically rooted in some totally different context, before re-arranging these signifiers in a certain way to reach certain ends. Kristeva’s notion of intertextuality is recalled; all signifiers - words, images, expressions - are borrowed from some other socio-historical context. One of the many things we learn from Rotella’s work is that originality is just the dis- and reassembling of these signifiers.

Property From a Distinguished American Collector


8 Sopra

décollage on canvas
140.1 x 106 cm (55 1/8 x 41 3/4 in.)
Signed 'Rotella' lower right. Further signed, titled and dated 'Rotella "8 sopra" 1960' on the reverse.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

£300,000 - 500,000 ‡♠

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016