MILAN - Following the Second World War, Italy experienced a period of incredible economic growth led by the industrial cities of the north. Milan, the capital of Italy’s economic miracle, became one of Europe’s most progressive cities and the centre of a new artistic movement led by Lucio Fontana and centred around his theories of Spazialismo.

Paolo Scheggi’s Zone Riflesse, 1963. Estimate €200,000–300,000.

The act through which Fontana violated the surface of the painting, slashing and making holes in the canvas had an enormous impact in the course of post-war art history. Indeed, an entire generation of Italian artists born in the late 1930s and early 1940s, such as Agostino Bonalumi, Enrico Castellani and Paolo Scheggi, were artistically seduced, challenged and confronted by Fontana.

Important works by Paolo Scheggi lead the upcoming evening sale, Arte Moderna e Contemporanea at Sotheby’s Milan on 20 May, and exemplify his artistic practice ­– firmly rooted in the fertile ground of Fontana’s Spazialismo. Yet, where Fontana terminated his artistic and conceptual act in the cut (making reference to this act in the titles of the majority of his works, Concetto spaziale), Scheggi went further, enabling the work of art to become an autonomous total project, which includes space, time and dynamicity. Scheggi’s method of superimposing planes, or sequences of canvases, through which he carefully constructs voids and spaces, draws the viewer in to perceive not a hole, but the many qualities of form, shadow and light.

Paolo Scheggi’s Intersuperficie Curva Bianca, 1967. Estimate €250,000–350,000.

Viewing Scheggi’s works we are almost hypnotized by the intriguing interplay between space and light in the variety of shapes and holes. These works are a testament to the diversity of expression that the Florentine artist adopted in production. The rhythm in Intersuperficie curva Bianca, executed in 1967, appears to be rigorous and precise, a product of pure geometry that reminds us of the concept of classical purity; Zone riflesse, on the contrary, with shapes and holes that appear to be dancing with each other, reflects the poetic and less rigid face of Scheggi. More vibrant and dynamic is the composition of the 1969 Intersuperficie Curva Bianca, a work of important dimensions: 120 by 120 cm.

Paolo Scheggi’s Intersuperficie Curva Bianca, 1969. Estimate €400,000–600,000.

These three works highlight Scheggi’s enthusiastic production and illustrate how his methodology, even if firmly connected to the study of space, gave light to numerous explorations of the relationship and balance between void and form.

Arte Moderna e Contemporanea

20 May 2015 - 21 May 2015 | Milan