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Details & Cataloguing

The Italian Sale

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Paolo Scheggi
1940 - 1971
INTERSUPERFICIE CURVA BIANCA
acrylic on three superimposed canvases
133 by 133 by 6cm.; 52 3/8 by 52 3/8 by 2 3/8 in.
Executed in 1966. 
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This work is registered at the "Association Paolo Scheggi", Milan, under the number APSM051/0003 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. 

This work will be included in the forthcoming Paolo Scheggi Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by Luca Massimo Barbero. 

Provenance

Private Collection, Italy (a gift from the artist)

Thence by descent to the present owner

Exhibited

Bologna, Galleria La Nuova Loggia, Alviani, Bonalumi, Castellani, Scheggi. Pittura oggetto a Milano, 1967, n.p., illustrated

Bologna, Galleria d’arte Moderna, Paolo Scheggi, 1976, n.p., no. 30, illustrated 

Florence, Sala d’Arme of Palazzo Vecchio, Paolo Scheggi, 1983, p. 31, illustrated in colour

Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, Continuità. Arte in Toscana 1945-1967, 2002, p. 123, illustrated in colour (incorrectly dated)

Parma, Galleria Niccoli, La breve e intensa stagione di Paolo Scheggi, 2002-03, p. 183, illustrated in colour

Florence, Galleria il Ponte, Paolo Scheggi. Ferri tele carte. Una retrospettiva 1957-1971, 2007-08, no. XV, illustrated in colour

Literature

Exhibition Catalogue, Florence, Forte di Belvedere, Firenze per l'arte contemporanea: collezioni, donazioni, fondazioni, 1986, n.p. illustrated

Catalogue Note

Enveloped in the purity of monochrome white, Paolo Scheggi’s Intersuperficie curva bianca is a prime manifestation of the artist’s exploration of space through the superimposition of three overlapping canvases. Impressive in size, the present work is not only one of the largest works by Scheggi to appear at auction but also ranges amongst his most celebrated series, the Intersuperficie. The mesmerising intensity of the white colour is juxtaposed by the combination of curvilinear voids and hard-edged diagonals, which emphasise the sculptural materiality of the work. Reflecting on the transcendent white chromatic neutrality, art historian Francesca Pola aptly pointed out that “… it is evident that the white was, for Scheggi, not so much a “colourless” matrix designed to erase anything individual or emotive… but rather a privileged place for a luminosity that is the inner energy itself of the space of the work” (Francesca Pola in: Exhibition Catalogue, London, Robilant and Voena, Paolo Scheggi: The Humanistic Measurement of Space, 2014, p. 75).

Created in 1966, the very same year that Scheggi was first invited to participate in the Venice Biennale to exhibit works from this series, Intersuperficie curva bianca stands at the zenith of the artist’s short but incredibly prolific and influential career. It was in this decisive decade that his oeuvre matured from his early abstract compositions to the physical exploration of the spatial dimensions of painting. In the present work, we glimpse through a grid of 49 perfectly aligned apertures onto a layer of interwoven squares, which resonate against the plain and unobstructed rear canvas. Each circle represents a miniature curtain that opens up the stage for the spatial spectacle of various perpendicular shapes and forms. The flawless surface and its pristine clarity emphasise both the physical and metaphorical qualities of these poetic works that allude to a heightened perception of the painting as an object. Quoting Francesca Pola, “Scheggi searches for an inner force to animate his superimposition of planes of a single colour, and he achieves it, by gradual vascular removal of matter, under-passing the limit of the closed surface to circumscribe an empty space defined by reasons of distance and rhythmic comparison with a successive frontal surface” (Ibid., p. 104).

Situated at the centre of a burgeoning Italian avant-garde art scene during the 1950s and 60s, Scheggi’s multifaceted and experimental oeuvre ranges from his celebrated paintings through to architectural practice, fashion projects and theatrical performances, all of which seem to culminate in his Intersuperficie works. When Scheggi moved to Milan in 1961, the Lombard capital provided a germinating ground for his radical ideas and he soon became associated with artists such as Lucio Fontana, Agostino Bonalumi, and Enrico Castellani. This group sought to overcome the stagnant two-dimensionality of the canvas through Spatialism – an inspired and innovative new artistic expression that was defined as the Pittura oggetto movement by art critic Gillo Dorfles.

In an attempt to extend the viewer’s visual experience beyond the mere surface of a single canvas and elevate the artistic object as an autonomous and interrogatory entity, the artistic medium in Scheggi’s Intersuperficie became a spatial solution capable of erasing emotional influence and directly connecting instead with life and the work's surrounding environment. As such, the rational determination and almost mechanic exactitude of these works echo the economic boom and industrial production dominating the post-war era in Italy. This dialogue between the physical presence of material and the ephemera of its spatial invocations positions Scheggi’s works at the very crossroads of painting and sculpture, a radical endeavour that resonated with the zeitgeist of his time and today remains quintessentially contemporary in its minimalist aesthetic.

The Italian Sale

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London