Details & Cataloguing

The Italian Sale


Enrico Castellani

This work is registered in the Archivio Enrico Castellani, Milan, under the number 68-023


Galleria dell'Ariete, Milan

Galleria Forma, Genoa

Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo

Corporate Collection, Italy


Genoa, Galleria Forma, Enrico Castellani, 1972, n.p., illustrated

Pistoia, Palazzo Fabroni, Enrico Castellani, 1996, p. 90, no. 26, illustrated in colour


Vincenzo Agnetti, Enrico Castellani pittore, Milan 1968, p. 31, illustrated

Achille Bonito Oliva and Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, Enrico Castellani, Parma 1976, n.p., no. 75, illustrated

Silvia Evangelisti and Annamaria Maggi, Enrico Castellani, Genoa 1976, n.p., illustrated, Bergamo 2001, n.p., illustrated

Exhibition Catalogue, Matera, Galleria San Biagio, L'altro spazio, 1984, n.p., illustrated 

Exhibition Catalogue, Milan, Lorenzelli Arte, Enrico Castellani, 1986, p. 15, illustrated

Exhibition Catalogue, New York, Albert Totah Gallery; London, Edward Totah Gallery, Enrico Castellani, 1987, n.p., illustrated

Laura Cherubini, 'Roma anni 60', Flash Art, December 1989 - January 1990, p. 85, illustrated

Adachiara Zevi and Bitan Helenah Rubinshtain, Three Artistic Generations in Contemporary Italy, Tel Aviv 1993, p. 79, illustrated

Exhibition Catalogue, Trento, Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea, Enrico Castellani, 1999, p. 13, installation image, p. 83, no. 54, illustrated in colour 

Exhibition Catalogue, Milan, Fondazione Prada, Enrico Castellani, 2001, p. 251, illustrated in colour

Renata Wirz and Frederico Sardella, Enrico Castellani. Catalogo ragionato, Milan 2012, Vol. I, p. 157, illustrated in colour, Vol. II, p. 389, no. 271, illustrated 


Mesmerising in its radial exactitude, beguiling in its compositional complexity, and yet unimpeachably calm across the entirety of its bright white surface, Superficie Circolare Bianca is an exceptional work. Even within the extraordinary oeuvre of Enrico Castellani, it is almost unparalleled in its executive acuity; it speaks of an artist at the height of his creative powers and in the midst of the most successful phase of his career. This intricate work, completed only two years after Castellani exhibited at the Venice Biennale, is one of only four works from the entirety of this artist’s oeuvre to be executed on a rounded canvas. Moreover, it is the only work that employs the experimental medium of ciré instead of acrylic, and herein stands as a complete unicum within the artist’s exceptional artistic output.

The work is based around a single wooden white disc with four radiating circles etched into its surface. From this central hub, two wooden triangular shapes emerge horizontally, while two much larger semi-circular canvas segments, separated by narrow voids, complete the work’s vertical axis. The central pattern of radiating circles is continued, through Castellani’s trademark visual language of miniature peaks and dimples, across the entirety of these massive canvas segments to create a work that is overwhelmingly mesmeric in effect. The composition appears to undulate and pulsate, from some angles appearing to emanate outwards in infinite ripples of invisible force, and from others to roll along at some immutable speed imperceptible to the human eye. In its incorporation of both wooden and canvas elements, and in its use of interlocking elements – some flat, some curved, and some undulating – the present work relates to some of Castellani’s most ambitious projects. We might look to the Dittico NY N.2 of 1966, now housed in the permanent collection of the Fondazione Prada, which employed a similar technique of interlocking canvases, or even the impressive Spazio Ambiente of 1970, which consists of a slew of different panels – some flat and some undulating – combined so as to create an entire immersive spatial environment.

Castellani’s praxis is based upon his characteristic effect of hollows and pointed protuberances, created through hammering nails into his canvas in alternating directions according to a geometric pattern. The light and shadow patterns that these introflections and extroflections engender make the work appear to constantly flicker and move, changing in aesthetic from each angle of consideration. Thus Castellani creates a work not only in space but also in time. In his own words: “an indefinitely repeatable rhythm of monochrome surface is necessary to give the works the concreteness of the infinite and subject them to the influence of time” (Enrico Castellani quoted in: Germano Celant, Enrico Castellani 1958-1970, Milan 2001, p. 43).

Space travel dominated the global political discourse in the late 1960s and, along with other members of the Pittura Oggetto group like Lucio Fontana and Paolo Scheggi, Castellani was at pains to emulate humanity’s exploration of a further dimension by exploring the dimensionality of his canvas in parallel. The present work seems particularly cosmic in mood. In composition, the sense of infinite radial continuation seems fitting for the infinite vastness inherent to galactic exploration, while the circular shape of the canvas affords the viewer no central axis, as if the work could be considered just as easily in zero gravity. In visual effect, the pattern caused by the peaks and dimples, with points of light emerging from depths of shadow, is star-like in its twinkling regularity. Furthermore, and despite Castellani’s conscious effort not to imbue his works with representational significance, the viewer cannot help but ascribe Saturnine significance to the distinctive shape of this canvas.

Perfectly encapsulating concepts of infinite dimensionality and deftly implying contemporaneous advances in cosmic exploration, Superficie Circolare Bianca is a truly masterful work. It stands as testament to the wit, verve, and inventiveness of Castellani’s creative spirit. 

The Italian Sale