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Christie's Milan Modern & Contemporary Auctions to offer works by Burri, Fontana & Manzoni
Alberto Burri, Muffa painting. Estimate: €500,000 – 700,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2014.

MILAN.- Following its successful debut last year, Christie’s announced the auctions Milan Modern and Contemporary which will take place on 2 & 3 April 2014 at Palazzo Clerici, Milan. As global demand has never been stronger for 20th Century Italian art, Milan Modern and Contemporary will build on Christie’s recent record breaking auctions of Italian art by continuing to provide the top of the market with a carefully selected group of works synonymous with exceptional quality. The sale will offer, among others, some rare masterpieces of Informal Art, Post-War Italian art, Arte Povera, Modern classics and the Futurist movement, that come from prestigious private Italian collections and are being presented at auction for the first time.

An important selection of works by some of the greatest modern Italian masters, such as Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri, will be highlighted in the sale, as well as important artists working during key moments in Milan in the 1960s: Agostino Bonalumi, Enrico Castellani, Dadamaino, Nanda Vigo and Piero Manzoni. Christie’s is also proud to sponsor the major Piero Manzoni retrospective at Palazzo Reale, Milan (26 March – 2 June 2014).

Mariolina Bassetti, Chairman of Christie's Italy, and International Director in the Post-War & Contemporary Art Department: “The Global demand for 20th century Italian Art has never been higher, as witnessed during the record Italian Art sale in London in October 2013, which totalled £26,798,000 / $43,278,770 / €31,621,640, and more recently in February this year when the single owner sale ‘Eyes Wide Open: An Italian Vision’ set a benchmark for Post-War Italian art and Arte Povera, realizing £38,427,400 / $63,020,936 / €46,074,453, making Christie’s the market leader for 20th century Italian art”.

Renato Pennisi, Co-Head of Modern and Contemporary Art Department, Head of Sale, Christie’s Italy: “We are pleased to pay tribute to the city of Milan by offering at auction a special selection dedicated to the most acclaimed and requested artists working during the exciting era of Milan in the 1960’s, including an impressive Castellani dated 1967, an iconic red four cuts by Fontana and a rare Achrome dated 1960 by Manzoni. We are also very proud to present two works from Alberto Burri’s rare ‘Muffa’ series”.

The sale is led by Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale, Attese (estimate: €700,000 – 1,000,000). With its four elegant cuts spaced out rhythmically against its sumptuous red background, this masterpiece perfectly encapsulates the eloquent combination of the conceptual and the sensual that underpinned so many of the artist's works. Executed in 1964-65, this work is presented to the market in perfect condition, after being in the same private collection for over three decades.

Following the exceptional results of Combustione Plastica, by Alberto Burri, which sold in London this past February at a world record price for the artist at auction at £4,674,500 / $7,666,180 / €5,604,726 (estimate: £1,700,000-2,200,000), Christie’s is pleased to offer another selection of four works by the artists during the auction in Milan, including two Muffa paintings (estimate: €500,000 – 700,000, and estimate: €300,000 – 400,000). Part of a series of only 27 paintings, the Muffa are rare and significant works in which the artist was experimenting with new materials and started using fabric and pumice stone in his compositions to recall organic elements. From an historical point of view, the Muffa are key works to understand the evolution of Burri’s style. Discerning collectors will have the opportunity to acquire works of historical significance at accessible levels.

Further highlights of the sale include Enrico Castellani’s iconic 1967 masterpiece Superficie Bianca, (estimate: €300,000-500,000); and Piero Manzoni’s rare Achrome from 1960 (estimate: €120,000-180,000). Coming from a refined Italian private collection, the present work by Castellani is one of the rarest dated 1967, which combines elegant symmetry of the ‘estroflessioni-introflessioni’ undulation of the canvas with the artist’s iconic, white, monochromatic signature. Another key highlight of the auction, Manzoni’s Achrome, this is one of the rare examples made of polystyrene and inorganic phosphorus, which makes the work glow green in the dark, that the artist used as new media for experimenting with the monochrome.

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