Lot 63
  • 63

Paolo Scheggi

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Paolo Scheggi
  • Intersuperficie curva dal rosso
  • signed, titled and dated 1966 on the reverse 
  • red acrylic on three superimposed canvases


Private Collection

Sotheby’s, Milan, 26 November 2007, Lot 101 (consigned by the above)

Private Collection, Rome 

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Luca Massimo Barbero, Paolo Scheggi, Catalogue Raisonné, Milan 2016, p. 268, no. 66 T 44, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Paolo Scheggi’s Intersuperficie curva dal rosso is a prime manifestation of the artist’s exploration of space through the superimposition of overlapping canvases. The mesmerising intensity of the red ground is juxtaposed by the combination of curvilinear voids and hard-edged diagonals, which emphasise the sculptural materiality of the work. Created in 1966, the very same year that Scheggi was first invited to participate in the Venice Biennale to exhibit works from this series, Intersuperficie curva dal rosso stands at the zenith of the artist’s short but incredibly prolific and influential career. It was in this decisive decade that his oeuvre matured from his early abstract compositions to the physical exploration of the spatial dimensions of painting. Each of the four circles in the present work represent a miniature curtain that opens up the stage for the spatial spectacle of various perpendicular shapes and forms. The flawless surface and its pristine clarity emphasise both the physical and metaphorical qualities of these poetic works, which allude to a heightened perception of the painting as an object. Quoting art historian Francesca Pola, “Scheggi searches for an inner force to animate his superimposition of planes of a single colour, and he achieves it, by gradual vascular removal of matter, under-passing the limit of the closed surface to circumscribe an empty space defined by reasons of distance and rhythmic comparison with a successive frontal surface” (Francesca Pola cited in: Exh. Cat., London, Robilant and Voena, Paolo Scheggi: The Humanistic Measurement of Space, 2014, p. 104).

Situated at the centre of a burgeoning Italian avant-garde art scene during the 1950s and 60s, Scheggi’s multifaceted and experimental oeuvre ranges from his celebrated paintings through to an architectural practice, fashion projects and theatrical performances, all of which seem to culminate in his Intersuperficie works. When Scheggi moved to Milan in 1961, the Lombard capital provided a germinating ground for his radical ideas and he soon became associated with artists such as Lucio Fontana, Agostino Bonalumi, and Enrico Castellani. This group sought to overcome the stagnant two-dimensionality of the canvas through Spatialism – an inspired and innovative new artistic expression that was defined as the Pittura oggetto movement by art critic Gillo Dorfles.

1966 would, however, prove to be the break-through year for Paolo Scheggi. During these prophetic 12 months, the artist took part in important European and American exhibitions and established himself on the international stage. Of the most significant events, his participation in the exhibition Pittura-oggetto saw his work exhibited alongside a roll-call of the leading names in Italian contemporary art: Fontana, Bonalumi, Castellani, Scheggi, were the names that topped this exhibition’s bill at the Galleria Arco d’Alibert in Rome. This year was particularly significant for post-war Italian art in general; it was the year of Fontana’s prize winning Biennale entry, Ambiente Spaziale Bianco (White Spatial Environment) in which a number of monumental white canvases adorned with a single slash were exhibited in an immersive and chapel-like space. Undoubtedly inspired by Fontana’s engrossing installation, Scheggi immediately embarked upon plans for his own integrated aesthetic environment, the Intercamera Plastica which he began work on in late 1966. In this regard Scheggi was not alone, Enrico Castellani similarly transposed his iconic introflexions and extroflexions into an immersive environment entitled Ambiente Bianco (1967, and since destroyed) for exhibition alongside the now all-white Intercamera Plastica as part of the historic Lo Spazio dell’Immagine at the Palazzo Trinci in Foligno.

In an attempt to extend the viewer’s visual experience beyond the mere surface of a single canvas and elevate the artistic object as an autonomous and interrogatory entity, in Scheggi’s Intersuperficie became a spatial solution capable of erasing emotional influence and instead directly connecting the work and its surrounding environment. As such, the rational determination and almost mechanic exactitude of these works echo the economic boom and industrial production dominating the post-war era in Italy. This dialogue between the physical presence of material and space positions Scheggi’s works at the very crossroads of painting and sculpture, a radical endeavour that resonated with the zeitgeist of his time and today remains quintessentially contemporary in its minimalist aesthetic.