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Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary Art sale in Milan to feature important works by Lucio Fontana
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese. Signed, titled and dated 57 on the back. Water-based paint on canvas, blue, 80 x 100 cm. Est: € 300.000-400.000.

MILAN.- The next Modern and Contemporary Art sale of Sotheby’s Milan will be led by highly important works by Lucio Fontana, representing his entire artistic production, concurrently with the major Parisian retrospective.

Dating back to Fontana’s abstract and pre-Informal research, Tavoletta Graffita (Madonna) of 1934 is a rare and powerful work in coloured cement, and is estimated € 120,000-180,000. Follows a very specific italian Collection from the Fifties, entirely focused on ceramic works by Fontana: it comprises a number of remarkable examples, realized between 1950 and 1955, including the fine feminine Testa (head) in glazed polychrome ceramic (h. 34 cm; est. €40,000-60,000), the Battaglia vase of 1952 in glazed polychrome terracotta (106x40 cm; est. €60,000-80,000) and the large Specchio (mirror) of ’55, est. €40,000-60,000. Similar, but with different provenances, are the elegant 1952 Base per Tavolo (table stand), in glazed terracotta, and Madonna con Bambino e Putti, executed in 1950, a two-elements group est. €60,000-80,000. From an important Italian private Collection comes an early tagli by Lucio Fontana: Concetto Spaziale, Attese, dated 1959, three slashes on blue canvas, beneath which shines through a fondo oro background. The two-colour contrast is deeply suggestive. The work was acquired by the present owner in 1970 from the Marlborough Gallery in Rome, and exhibited at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. The painting, measuring 80x100 cm, is estimated to realize €300,000-400,000.

The most recent work by Fontana offered in this Milan sale is 1967 Concetto Spaziale Attese, with a striking green colour evidently evoked in the title Stanno vangando il giardino (spading the garden), The work has a prestigious collecting history, and is estimated €500,000-700,000.

The smallest ouvre by Fontana (18x24 cm) in the catalogue is a silver Concetto Spaziale from 1962, This rare work belongs to a series of only four tagli painted in this colour (val. €300,000-350,000). Of similar size is Monochrome Bleu by Yves Klein dated 1959, a Petit Bleu from the Obelisco Gallery in Rome, estimated to realize €120,000-180,000

1960 is the year inscribed on the reverse of the magnificent enamel by Mario Schifano*, acquired by the present owner from Giorgio Franchetti (the celebrated Italian collector) in the early Seventies: N°10 est. €130,000-180,000. The work by Schifano introduces a Collection from Piedmont focused on the 1960s: ranging from 1960 to 1969, this ensemble features works by Agostino Bonalumi (Blu¸1964; est. €60,000-80,000), Piero Dorazio (Senza Titolo, 1963; est. €40,000-60,000), Jesus Rapahel Soto (Argentino, 1969; est. €40,000-60,000), and an impressive work by Lucio Fontana, a single cut on white canvas executed in 1965, and estimated €600,000-800,000. This powerful yet pure gesture became, the following year, the central theme of the celebrated exhibition at the XXXIII Venice Biennale curated by Lucio Fontana and the great Italian architect Carlo Scarpa.

Worldwide sought-after by collectors nowadays, various works from the Milan artistic scene of the Sixties will be offered at auction: two Volumi, black and white (est. € 35,000-45,000 each), and Oggetto ottico-dinamico (est. € 40,000-60,000) by Dadamaino, a diptych by Turi Simeti of 1967, estimated € 70,000-80,000; a Scheggi from ’62, Nero (est. € 50,000-60,000); among them, two of the finest works by Enrico Castellani from the 1960s: a white square, measuring 120x120 cm, executed in 1968 (est. € 200,000-300,000), and a striking 1963 Superficie Blu, directly acquired from the artist by the present owners, estimated € 500,000-700,000.

Following, a white pancia by Bonalumi from 1967, est. € 50,000-70,000. From the same collection, an highly evocative work by Afro, painted in 1952 for the XXVI Venice Biennale, est. € 80.000- 120.000. and a 1959 oil on canvas by Santomaso, Pietra Antica (est. € 100,000-150,000), exhibited the following year in Bruxelles (Palais des Beaux-Arts) and Amsterdam (Stedelijck Museum).

A Giorgio de Chirico introduces a further private collection: Le Due Maschere, dated 1959 is estimated to realize €120,000-180,000, and Architettura in Grigio (est. €120,000-180,000) dated 1955 by Marino Marini. Other notable Post-War works include Il Sole Spunta a Sinistra. Concetto Spaziale, Attesa, from 1964, by Lucio Fontana, a single cut on red canvas est. € 280,000-380,000 and Venere, by Michelangelo Pistoletto, silk-screen printing on aluminium (n.33/60), estimated €40.000-60.000.

The Milan sale will also feature three Arte Povera masterpieces: a work by Ceroli from 1967; Giulio Paolini’s Una Visione (est. €80.000-120.000) – a canvas inscribed with a text in pencil by the artist, and mounted at the center of a wider canvas to conceal a secret drawing undearneath; and a 1972 Lavoro Postale by Alighiero Boetti (125x113 cm), a composition of envelopes sent to Fernand Spillemaeckers - belgian artist, critic and art dealer - that follows combinatorial criteria peculiar to all the Lavori Postali series. It was exhibited in 1972 at the famous MTL Gallery in Bruxelles (founded in 1969 by the same Spillemaeckers). Lavoro Postale, 1972, coming from a private italian collection, is estimated to realize €200,000-300,000.

The impressive L’Uomo e la Sua Ombra (man and his shadow), a wooden sculpture by Mario Ceroli**, ( h. 186 cm. –man- and h. 230 ca. cm. –shadow), executed in 1967 (est. €60,000-80,000), was acquired by the present owner directly from the collection of the famous patron and Contemporary Art collector Albert List who, together with his wife Vera contributed to the foundation of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and to the creation of art centers in major American universities, such as M.I.T. The work was exhibited in 1967 at the Galleria Bonino in New York, and in 1969 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery – Buffalo, during a solo exhibition devoted to the artist.

Among the lots of XXI Century, Occhi della Pelle n. 4 by Penone, estimated € 80,000-120,000, a work by Pier Paolo Calzolari, Lawrence Carroll with Senza Titolo (est. € 25,000-35,000) and, from a swiss private collection, Composizione n.4 by Bertozzi & Casoni, recently exhibited at Ca’ Pesaro in Venice, est. € 25,000-35,000, Banksy (lot sold to benefit the Croce Rosa-Celeste Onlus) with Mosquito, dated 2003 (val. € 8,000-12,000), and the young Andrea Mastrovito (currently exhibited at the GAMeC in Bergamo) with a large collage and acrylic on foamboard (est. € 10,000-20,000).

*Same date of Palo Alto, enamel on paper laid on canvas, sold at Sotheby’s Milan in November 2013 at €421.500

**Mario Ceroli’s record price of €87,000 was achieved at Sotheby’s Milan in November 2013 with SI+NO, a sculpture from 1964.

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