LONDONThe Italian Sale, taking place this 17 October at Sotheby's London, is characterised by a refined monochrome elegance with a focus on light, space and material. The works from the collection of Giobatta Meneguzzo, originally housed in Gio Ponti’s transcendent architectural vision Lo Scarabeo sotto la foglia (The Beetle Under the Leaves), epitomise this trend and form a highlight of the sale.


LO SCARABEO SOTTO LA FOGLIA, DESIGNED BY ARCHITECT GIO PONTI, 1964.

Designed by architect Gio Ponti in 1964, Lo Scarabeo sotto la foglia is a triumphant architectural landmark that can be seen as a manifesto for the wider ZERO art movement of the 1960s. Giobatta Meneguzzo, who realised Ponti’s architectural vision after seeing the designs for the house in Domus magazine in 1964, collaborated with designer Nanda Vigo and transformed the interior into a unique visionary environment. Plush furniture was set against white tiled floors and walls and exotic foliage dangled from a semi-circular atrium; an immersive space described by Meneguzzo as somewhat of a "movie set." The house became a meeting place for artists, critics and gallerists, such as Pierre Restany, Christo, Mimmo Rotella, Arman and Achille Bonito Oliva, to name a few, and Meneguzzo began working closely with some of the greatest artists of postwar Italy, who, in some cases, created works specifically for the space. 


THE SEMI-CIRCULAR ATRIUM OF LO SCARABEO SOTTO LA FOGLIA.

In collaboration with Nanda Vigo, he selected, among others, four important white paintings as focal points in his remarkable Gesamtkunstwerk: a white Teatrino by Lucio Fontana, an imposing work by Agostino Bonalumi, a triptych by Turi Simeti, and ​​a monumental canvas by Enrico Castellani. The Castellani piece was specifically designed for the entrance hall, and displayed in front of a corresponding mirror of the same size to create a striking dual image. Together these works are a manifestation of Giobatta Meneguzzo’s discerning vision and their appearance at auction marks a unique event. Castellani’s superlative Superficie Bianca, in particular, is unquestionably one of the most important works by the artist to ever appear at auction.

Celina Langen is a specialist in the Contemporary Art Department, Sotheby’s London.

The Italian Sale

17 October 2014 | London