Mario Schifano, Khoms 1934 - 1998 Rome
After the Stripes, 1965
ProvenancePrivate collection, Milan until 2019
ExhibitionsTorre Pellice, Collegio Valdese, 17° Mostra d'Arte Contemporanea, 6 August–28 August 1966, n. 190.
Mario Schifano was one of the mainstream exponents of the Roman group of artists known as the Scuola di Piazza del Popolo, active during the 1960s. The group was created in response to the international movements more in vogue at the time such as Pop Art, New Dada and Nouveau Réalisme. Roman artists wanted to show their independence from American art and bring Rome back into the international art scene. The group’s main artists were Mario Schifano, Tano Festa and Franco Their means and their materials were close to Pop Art, however their choice of subject matter drew from the history of Italian art and the imagery of the streets of Rome. Thus, the production of La Scuola di Piazza del Popolo testified to the artists’ relationship with American art: on the one hand they were attracted by it, but on the other its supremacy pushed them to experiment with new imagery in art that was completely detached from it. Besides being the most well-known of those artists, Schifano’s oeuvre also most clearly reveals these mixed feelings of attraction and rejection that he and his fellow artists experienced towards the United States.
After the Stripes, or Dopo le strisce, was created following Schifano’s visit to the USA (1963-1964). During his time there, he had the chance to work in close contact with artists such as Andy Warhol. Schifano continued travelling back and forth from New York to Rome in this period, and his art was deeply informed by this ambivalent attitude.
The use of industrial materials such as enamel and the inclusion of pop elements, in this case the bold stripes of the zebra crossing, reveals the influence of Pop Art. Moreover, the repetition of the black lines and shoes recall the serial use of images by mainstream Pop artist Andy Warhol.
Nevertheless, in Schifano the repetition of the subject is not mechanical, but rather ‘handmade’. The artist leaves space for imperfections in order to emphasise the handcrafted element of the work and to echo the tradition of Italian handmade products. Furthermore, the serial repetition of forms is also a reference to Italian art history, more precisely to Futurism. The repetition of the shoe could be read as an attempt to represent or study movement and speed, something that had always fascinated Futurists such as Giacomo Balla. Other works by Schifano explore the same theme, for instance Camminare and A la Balla,1965 (fig. 1).
Dopo le Strisce is a persuasive example of Schifano’s work during the sixties and encapsulates the attitude of Roman artists towards art at the time. The work mixes elements from low culture and Pop Art with elements from the so-called ‘high’ culture, drawing directly from the Italian history of art.
The present work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Mario Schifano Archive, Rome, n.03972190413.
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