Posts Tagged ‘Domenico Gnoli’

Art | Domenico Gnoli: Big Time

Friday, April 27th, 2018

Curl, 1969
Acrylic and sand
on canvas



Domenico Gnoli:
Detail of a Detail

Luxembourg & Dayan
New York City | USA
3 May 14 July 2018



Domenico Gnoli
in his studio,
S’Estaca, Majorca,
October 1969



Handsome, stylish and on the verge of recognition as a major painter due to the success of his first New York show, in 1970, Italian artist, Domenico Gnoli, aged 36, died of cancer.

Soon forgotten, his paintings, for the most part, disappeared into obscure collections. Taschen’s Art of the 20th Century, published in 2000, granted Gnoli little more than a passing mention, however, four decades after his death, visionary fashion figure Miuccia Prada, who had discovered and begun buying up his work, showed some items at the 2011 Venice Biennale and, effectively, brought about his resurrection.

Originally from Rome, where he worked as a theatre set designer, Gnoli had relocated to New York, supporting himself with regular illustration commissions from magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Fortune, while he transformed himself into an artist.

Escarpin vu
de dos
, 1967

Acrylic and sand
on canvas



Scarpa di
fronte
, 1967

Acrylic and sand
on canvas



Characterised by their immediacy and by his precise treatment of their subject matter: everyday items of clothing including shoes, suits, shirts, slippers, household objects, as well as personal details, such as the back of a head or a single ringlet of hair (see top) – always in monumental isolation – Gnoli’s works suggest an anonymous or absent person, and were, apparently, symbolic interpretations of his own feelings about the emptiness and depersonalisation of modern life. Ironically, they could now be seen to symbolise his own short life and truncated career, during which he produced around 145 finished paintings, of which only a few dozen survive.

Chair, 1969
Acrylic and sand
on canvas



His talent notwithstanding, Gnoli’s tragic story, handsome looks and great personal style – not to mention his Prada patronage – guaranteed the success of his second, and posthumous, New York show at Luxembourg & Dayan in 2012, as well as his enduring popularity with the international fashion crowd.

In its new show, Domenico Gnoli: Detail of a Detail, Luxembourg & Dayan is presenting rarely seen works by the artist in an installation designed by opera director Robert Carson.

All works by Domenico Gnoli: images courtesy Luxembourg & Dayan, New York and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE Rome.

All works are from private collections.
Photo courtesy Luxembourg & Dayan


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Show & Auction | Lucio Fontana, The Last Futurist

Friday, November 18th, 2011


Modern & Contemporary Art and Identita’ Italiana

Sotheby’s Milan, Exhibition until 22nd November, 2011
Auction 22nd & 23rd November, 2011

‘And what is there to see in an old picture except the laborious contortions of an artist throwing himself against the barriers that thwart his desire to express his dream completely?’ – Extract from The Futurist Manifesto, first published in France’s Le Figaro in 1909.

Much as the Italian Futurists, whom he would have been aware of in this youth, Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) was perhaps seen as getting rather carried away by his own enthusiasm when in the 1950s he declared: ‘I make holes; infinity passes through them; light passes through them, there is no need to paint.’

This is the man who slashed his own canvases and slit open his sculptures. I’d like to use the occasion of this Sotheby’s auction in Milan, in which six of his works go under the hammer, alongside paintings and sculpture from many of Italy’s most revered 20th century artists, among them: Giacomo Balla, Arturo Martini,Giorgio de Chirico, Massimo Campigli, Mario Sironi, Alberto Savinio, Renato Birolli, Luigi Ontani, Gastone Novelli and Domenico Gnoli, to extrapolate a theory I have developed concerning Lucio Fontana.

Fontana, was born in Argentina of Italian immigrant parents, his father being a sculptor. He was in Italy studying engineering when WWI broke out and fought in it. Afterwards he studied sculpture in Milan but soon returned to Argentina before settling once more in Italy. Despite having, with some Italian artist friends, gone to Paris – like de Chirico had, more than a decade before – to join one of the many factions of modern artists there – the Abstraction-Création group – contradictorily, his first one-man abstract art show having happened the year before, Fontana’s sensitive, equine, figurative bronze Bozzetto per i ‘Cavalli che seguono la Vittoria’, 1936, (above middle, and included in the sale) dates from this period. It’s interesting to note, though, that these horses are moving, not static, and the younger one is a little ahead of its parent. 1939 finds Fontana back in Argentina where he founds a private academy and with some of his students writes the Manifesto Blanco, demanding the synthesis of artistic genres and the renunciation of traditional art materials. It recognised that: ’We live in the mechanical age. Painted canvas and upright plaster no longer have a reason to exist.’ In their place, his idea was to merge technology and art to create something entirely new and more suited to the time. Back in Milan in 1947 he wrote another manifesto: Primo Manifesto dello Spezialismo, demanding a new form of space-oriented art. At the time his concept would have seemed improbable and grandiose: to synthesize space, sound, colour, movement and time into a new kind of art.

In 1949, his fiftieth year, Fontana punched holes through painted canvases and created his first spatial environment: an experiment with shapeless objects painted in fluorescent colours illuminated by ultra-violet light to be viewed in a darkened room. Seemingly manifesto-mad, in the 1950s he wrote another three of them and continued to conduct further experiments, slashing and perforating his paintings and sculptures, and even including neon lights, memorably at the 1966 Venice Biennale where he installed an ultra-violet light-room and a violet neon-room. His uncompromising Concetto spaziale, Attesa,1964 (above top, and in the sale), is perhaps the most bald and direct of his attempts to shock the viewer into the realisation that he is not looking at a flat plane. In slashing the canvas he attempts to bring the background – the wall behind – into the painting, giving it another dimension, making the painting into an object or sculpture. Earlier in the century, the Cubists had of course already experimented with this idea but Fontana wanted to push it further. Around about this time, many of his pieces were named Concetto Spaziele, the pierced sculptural form (above bottom, and in the sale) is one of them; here his object is to blur the difference between a solid, rounded, bean-shaped object and a hollow one, thus allowing the inside as well as the outside surface to have a presence.

Looking beyond the limits of the picture, exploring space and science fiction to connect the new art to the dramatic technological and social changes taking place in the middle of the 20th Century, Fontana’s outlook was enormously influential. Ahead of his time, with so many vague and unformed but interesting ideas, it is fair to say that his spatial concept foreshadowed installation and environmental art and his promotion of gesture as art prompted performance as art. A long list of artists emerging in the 1960s and later all owe him a great debt, among them: Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Jenny Holzer, James Turrell, Laurie Anderson, Bill Viola, Christo, Fiona BannerMartin Creed

We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicoloured, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervour of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd. Extract from The Futurist Manifesto, 1909.

Lucio Fontana may well have been the last Futurist.

Works from top
Concetto spaziale, Attesa, 1964
Bozzetto per i ‘Cavalli che seguono la Vittoria’, 1936
Concetto Spaziale, Undated


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