Mario Schifano

Born 1934. Died 1998.
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Works by Mario Schifano at Sotheby's

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Mario Schifano Biography

Considered one of the most significant artists of Italian postmodernism, Mario Schifano worked in numerous media throughout his career, but is perhaps bestl known for his collages consisting of advertising, scrap paper and painted components. During the latter half of his career, Schifano’s work became increasingly political as he explored issues such as the Vietnam War and widespread social unrest through both film and photography.

Born in 1934 in Libya, Schifano and his family relocated to Rome after World War II. With little interest in formal schooling, Schifano took up painting independently and began producing mixed-media works, primarily utilizing monochromatic canvases with glued wrapping paper and stenciling applied. These works garnered critical acclaim, and were followed by a number of exhibitions both in Italy and the US. In 1962 he was included in New Realists, an important group show at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York alongside artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Often employing elements of pop culture, such as brand logos and advertisements, his work is largely considered within the context of Pop art. Although Schifano was consistently productive and critically acclaimed, he struggled with drug addiction for most of his life, a habit that resulted in multiple arrests, which led the artist to label his career maldoto – cursed. He died at the age of 63 in Rome in 1998.

Because of the influential nature of his work, and the important time period in which he operated, according Sotheby’s Mei Moses the average compound annual return for Mario Schifano is 14%, with 88.9% of works increasing in value.

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Artist Image: © The Estate of Mario Schifano / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2018 / Photograph by Uliano Lucas (Studio Uliano Lucas) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons