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Fontana, Manzoni & Burri in the Milan Modern & Contemporary Art Sale at Sotheby's
Sandro Chia, Night for Right, signed and dated ‘84’, oil and pastels on paper laid on canvas. 236x153 cm. Estimate € 80.000-100.000. Photo: courtesy Sotheby's.


MILAN.- Following the extraordinary success of Milan Sotheby's auction on 8th April, with the complete sale of the 146-lot private collection of contemporary art from 1953 to 2003, the next auction, scheduled for the 27th May in Milan, is characterized by a catalogue that offers, among others, a beautiful group of works by ‘Post War’ artists.

The “oldest” work from the catalogue of the auction in Milan is Danseuse by Gino Severini, a futuristic watercolour on paper dating back to 1913, apparently created just before the opening of his personal exhibition in London at Marlborough Gallery in April 1913. This watercolour could be the preparatory work used for the poster of the London exhibition (estimate €65.000 – 80.000).

In April 1950, Gio Ponti enthusiastically commented in “Domus” on the magnificent decorations created by Massimo Campigli for the brand new Hotel Palace of Milan, designed by Giorgio Ramponi. One of the decorations, Teatro, is the scenographic work that we present in the catalogue, oil painted on a grand panel of faesite, portraying two singers surrounded by the audience, a masterpiece that reintroduces classic art on a modern scale. From the same artist, an ironic Due nudi, created in 1954, is an oil painting on canvas which has already been exhibited in Tokyo in 1973. This oil painting is estimated at €130.000 – 180.000; the grand panel Teatro is estimated at €300.000-400.000.

At the centre of the catalogue, Pisana - II versione, a bronze sculpture from 1933 by Arturo Martini, inspired by the heroine of “Confessioni di un italiano” (“The Castle of Fratta”) by Ippolito Nievo (117x61x32 cm.). Martini gave the gesso of the first version to the tailor and collector Adriano Pallini who, after having produced a bronze sculpture, destroyed it. From the former Martini produced two terra cotta works in 1933 from which another two unnumbered bronzes were created, one of which is here presented and estimated at €220.000 – 250.000.

Acquired by its present owner directly from the family of the artist is Angelo ribelle su fondo rosa by Osvaldo Licini, an oil painting on canvas created in 1950 (estimate €90.000 – 120.000).

Created in 1957, the magnificent Segno Limite by Afro of 1957 (mixed technique on canvas, 97x147 cm., estimate €400.000 – 600.000) was exhibited the same year in the Catherine Viviano Gallery of New York and was immediately received with great acclamation by American critics. It is a work created during the years in which Rome deepened its relationships with the American culture; Twombly moves to the capital and the ‘Rome-New York Art Foundation’ is established.

Also by Afro, a tempera and a charcoal on wood of 1967, Per Colorado, brought from Philippe Daverio Gallery of Milan (31X48 cm., estimate €100.000 – 150.000).
Among the works by Tancredi in the auction, we present Senza Titolo (Povero), a tempera on paper applied to canvas from 1960 (150x151 cm., estimate €45.000 – 55.000).

After the record reached by the auction on 8th April, one can still find works by Carla Accardi in the catalogue; Sotheby's presents Rosso Blu, 1989, a vinyl tempera on canvas in two parts (200x280 cm., estimate €80.000 – 100.000). From 1959, Barbacane dell’Est by Giuseppe Santomaso, (oil on canvas, 124x114 cm., stima €120-180.000) whose 100th birth anniversary was recently commemorated with the opening of a retrospective art exhibition held at the Cini Foundation in Venice. Followed by Lettera a Palladio n. 8, the eighth and last of a series honouring the great Venetian architect, which represents the climax and fulfilment of Santomaso’s reflections from 1977 and 1978. The Lettere, characterized by light and delicate colours, are composed of a sketch of a rectangular envelope inserted in the geometric and luminous structure of the painting; a hypothetical message of tribute to the fellow-citizen, to whom Santomaso felt particularly close, as he explained some years later: Palladio represents for me the tradition in evolution. (...) Palladio upsets, doesn’t annul, doesn’t betray, but adapts the functional demands of the man of Venetian Renaissance who goes on to dry land and invents his villas (...). Lettera a Palladio n. 8 is estimated €120.000 – 180.000.

A magnificent Concetto Spaziale gold, oil painting, gash and graffiti on canvas, created by Fontana (55x46 cm., estimate €400.000 – 600.000, illustrated left) is among the most important works of the auction and was created in 1964, only a year after the grand oval painting, Fine di Dio, claimed the record for the highest selling auction for the artist, achieved in February by Sotheby’s in London (GBP 10.324.500, €13.700.600) as well as the record for the highest selling auction for a post-war Italian artist.

From the publication of Manifesto dello Spazialismo in 1947, Lucio Fontana developed completely new methods, which lead to the rise of Minimalism and Conceptualism. The invention of a modern dimension of space is witnessed by an exceptional group of works conceived by Fontana within approximately a decade, from 1955 to 1965, considered high and diversified examples of a search that converges in the series of ‘Cuts’.

The three paintings Concetto Spaziale – Attese of the auction catalogue are dated 1960 (61x46 cm., estimate €300.000 – 400.000), 1961 (50x65 cm., estimate €250.000 – 350.000) and 1964-65 (33x24 cm., estimate €160.000 – 240.000), respectively.

From the Milanese collection, Aldo Selvini, the extraordinary Concetto Spaziale, oil painting, mixed technique and glass on canvas, created by Fontana in 1955 and exhibited at GNAM in Turin in 1970 (79x59 cm. estimate €500.000 – 700.000).
Signed and dated ‘59’ Combustione by Alberto Burri who dedicates this work to “my friend Ivo, Alberto, August ‘61” (board, tempera and combustion on paper mounted on canvas, 57x44 cm., estimate €200.000 – 300.000).

Previously in the collection of Emilio Scanavino, Achrome by Piero Manzoni, c.1959 (kaolin on canvas, 60x80 cm, estimate €500.000 – 700.000) that represents not only a precious witness of Manzoni’s poetics of white “colour”, the non-colour, but also a strong sign of the friendship between Manzoni and Scanavino and of the important role played by both in the history of art between the late Fifties and early Sixties. Manzoni met the Genoese artist during the summer holidays spent in Albisola (Savona) which, with his artistic tradition linked to ceramics, attracted many Italian and foreign artists. It is likely, then, that the use of the kaolin originated from Manzoni frequenting the ceramists of this city, such as Mazzotti and other artists who used it, or such as Lucio Fontana and Scanavino who, from 1952 on, cooperated with “Ceramiche Mazzotti”.

From a later date (c. 1962), the second Achrome was exhibited in 1968 at the Teatro La Fenice of Venice and in 1971 at GNAM of Rome (49x32 cm., estimate €80.000 – 120.000).

Among the masterpieces by Agostino Bonalumi is the great Giallo of 1973: composed by 4 paintings on shaped canvas painted with yellow enamel (total 300x400 cm.), the work reveals the geometric virtual effects that appear and disappear to the viewer depending upon the reflection of the light on the panels (estimate €100.000 – 150.000). In 1980, Giallo was exhibited in Mantua at Palazzo Te.

Exhibited at the gallery of Leo Castelli and, afterwards, at PAC of Milan in 1985 Box Kite, the wood panel by Salvatore Scarpitta, created in 1961 (bandages and mixed technique on wood, 164x135 cm., estimated €120.000 – 180.000).
Mario Schifano is present in the catalogue with some works, among whic



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