Mimmo Rotella, Catanzaro 1918 - 2006 Milan
Untitled, c. 1960
ProvenancePrivate collection, Los Angeles;
Private collection, Switzerland;
Galerie und Museum Baviera, Zurich;
Private collection, Switzerland.
A. Soldaini, Mimmo Rotella, Milan, Skira & Robilant+Voena, 2015, pp. 91, 205, n. 44, (illustrated).
G. Celant, Mimmo Rotella Catalogue raisonné, Vol. I 1944–1961, Milan, Skira 2016, p. 695, no. 166 c. 1960 (illustrated).
London, Robilant+Voena, Mimmo Rotella, 6 February–24 March 2015.
Mimmo Rotella, “Autopresentazione”, in Rotella, exhibition brochure (Rome, Galleria d’Arte Selecta, 30 March–8 April 1957).
Mimmo Rotella is a significant Italian figure of postwar European Art, renowned for his collages made from torn advertising posters. Born in Italy in 1918, he studied art at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples before moving to Rome in 1945. After first experimenting with figurative painting, he developed an abstract and geometrical style. His first solo exhibition was held in 1951 at the Galleria Chiurazzi and later that same year he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, which enabled him to travel to the US, where he studied at Kansas City University.
Rotella’s return to Rome in 1953 marked his rejection of easel painting and the development of his distinctive artistic practice; the art of décollage. Initially focusing on the formation of abstract compositions, he incorporated his décollage technique into retro d’affiches, applying the same manipulation technique, this time to the other side of the paper (verso). Contrary to his décollages, their production would only last until the early sixties and would be replaced by figurative décollages, such as the Cinecittà series, using figures and faces from film posters. His new pictorial compositions were now characterised by a less personal and more media-related and popular quality, reflecting the visual aesthetics of the burgeoning Pop Art movement.
By 1961, when he was already attracting the attention of art critics and important collectors, he accepted Pierre Restany’s invitation to become part of the Nouveau Réalisme movement. Three years later he moved to Paris where he developed his Photographic Reproductions, projecting negative images on emulsion covered canvases. He then made the artypo series, created by randomly gluing typographic proofs onto canvas, and in 1975 his first plastiforme, where ripped posters were placed on a polyurethane support. Lastly in 1980, Rotella moved to Milan and created his 'blanks', covering ripped posters with monochrome sheets of paper, creating blank areas in the original image according to different aesthetic and compositional criteria. In 1984 he revisited the most defining practice of his artistic oeuvre, the décollage, and produced the series Cinecittà 2, followed by the sovrapitture, the process of intervening graphically or pictorially directly on a poster that was either intact or had been torn previously, using acrylic colours.
Untitled, 1960 embodies an early example of Mimmo Rotella’s décollages, an artistic practice that involved the removal or tearing of pieces of worn-out commercial posters from the streets of Rome, which he would later reassemble by applying Vinavil (a PVA-based adhesive) diluted with water on prepared canvas. Pursuing his investigation into abstract art, by re-appropriating the designated intellectual frameworks of the posters’ content, his abstract compositions introduced new visual dialogues that aimed to highlight aesthetic values such as the vitality of colours, materiality and compositional conception. More specifically, the present work reflects the delicacy of Rotella’s craftsmanship by showcasing the formation of a carefully abstract compositional construction which involves the relationship of colours and the juxtaposition of the roughly shaped strips of paper.
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