Sotheby’s, Milan, 26 November 2007, Lot 101 (consigned by the above)
Private Collection, Rome
Acquired from the above by the present owner
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 an 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.
1966 would, however, prove to be the break-through year for Paolo Scheggi. During these prophetic 12 months, the artist took part in important European and American exhibitions and established himself on the international stage. Of the most significant events, his participation in the exhibition Pittura-oggetto saw his work exhibited alongside a roll-call of the leading names in Italian contemporary art: Fontana, Bonalumi, Castellani, Scheggi, were the names that topped this exhibition’s bill at the Galleria Arco d’Alibert in Rome. This year was particularly significant for post-war Italian art in general; it was the year of Fontana’s prize winning Biennale entry, Ambiente Spaziale Bianco (White Spatial Environment) in which a number of monumental white canvases adorned with a single slash were exhibited in an immersive and chapel-like space. Undoubtedly inspired by Fontana’s engrossing installation, Scheggi immediately embarked upon plans for his own integrated aesthetic environment, the Intercamera Plastica which he began work on in late 1966. In this regard Scheggi was not alone, Enrico Castellani similarly transposed his iconic introflexions and extroflexions into an immersive environment entitled Ambiente Bianco (1967, and since destroyed) for exhibition alongside the now all-white Intercamera Plastica as part of the historic Lo Spazio dell’Immagine at the Palazzo Trinci in Foligno.
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, in Scheggi’s Intersuperficie became a spatial solution capable of erasing emotional influence and instead directly connecting the work and its 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 space 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.
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