Our Italian Art sale realised £40,397,150 / $62,534,788 and was 78% sold by lot. Fifteen years after Sotheby’s introduced dedicated sales of 20th-century Italian Art in 1999, auction sales have grown eight-fold from £5.2 million.
The evening was led by Fontana’s La Fine di Dio which sold for £15.9 million, establishing a new auction record for the artist. Last exhibited over thirty years ago, the work had never been offered at auction before. This was one of ten works by Fontana sold in our rooms tonight. Quick-fire bids from seven collectors drove the golden Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1963-4) from the collection of Japanese artist Yoshihara Jiro (founder of the avant-garde Gutai group) to nearly £1 million.
The sale also saw strong prices for four works by Alberto Burri, currently in the spotlight at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – the artist’s first major U.S. retrospective in over 35 years. Lot 6, a 1956 ‘Combustione’ sold for £1 million over the pre-estimate; three bidders drove the work to £1.8 million.
Lucio Fontana’s greatest achievement, La Fine di Dio is the focal point of the Italian Sale in London this October. Representing the summation of the renowned master of Spatialism’s pioneering career, this extremely rare and colossal egg-shaped canvas shatters the very definition of oil on canvas. The sale is also highlighted by further works from the Italian master including examples of his iconic tagli and olii, as well as an early and remarkable ceramic sculpture. Archetypal works by 20th-century masters Giorgio Morandi, Giorgio De Chirico and Marino Marini are joined by exceptional pieces by post-war pioneer Alberto Burri ahead of his eagerly anticipated retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York. Furthermore, the sale also features a rare installation by Paolo Scheggi: Parete della Intercamera Plastica is the only surviving piece of the artwork-environment constructed for Scheggi’s landmark 1967 exhibition at the Galleria del Naviglio, Milan.