Lot 198
  • 198

ENRICO CASTELLANI | Superficie Arancione

260,000 - 350,000 GBP
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  • Enrico Castellani
  • Superficie Arancione
  • signed, titled, dated 1973 and dedicated to Anna Fendi on the overlap
  • acrylic on shaped canvas
  • 120 by 100 cm. 47 1/4 by 39 3/8 in.


A gift from the artist to the present owner


Bolzano, Museo d'Arte Moderna, Ultralux: Metafore della Luce, January - March 1991, p. 31, illustrated
Parma, Galleria Niccoli, Tensioni di Superficie, MayJune 1992, p. 23, illustrated 


Renata Wirz and Federico Sardella, Enrico Castellani: Catalogo RagionatoOpere 1955-2005, Vol. II, Milan 2012, p. 382, no. 379, illustrated


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Close inspection reveals some light burnishing to the tips of the protruding elements and some light wear in places along the edges. Further inspection reveals some surface irregularities to the superficial layer of paint in places. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultra-violet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Enrico Castellani’s Superficie paintings, of which Superficie Arancione is a superb example, occupy a position of utmost importance in the history of abstraction in the later twentieth century. Rejecting any concession to figurative representation, these works refer only to themselves and pioneered an ascetic visual dialogue that set a precedent for the burgeoning minimalist movement in the US. In line with the primary concerns of the German ZERO Group and French Group Motus, which defined art as an engagement of light, space, time, and motion, Castellani and Piero Manzoni co-founded the Gallery Azimuth in Milan in 1959. Since then Castellani continued to blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture, and radically redefined our understanding of medium specificity. Formally trained as an architect, Castellani manipulates the physical surface of his canvases to alter perceptions of space. In Superficie Arancione each punctiform modulation exists as a three dimensional protrusion, the ebb and flow of the canvas reveals a seamless variation of light. The subtly adapting tones affirm Castellani’s work as an object existing in and communicating with its ambient environment, with inexhaustible possibilities of tension and drama under changing conditions of darkness or illumination. Beneath the landscape of its subtly undulating relief is a unique geometric stretcher. Using a nail gun, Castellani followed the diagonal lines of this wooden structure and carefully positioned nails to push the canvas out from behind. Displaying a sequential pattern of extroflexions and introflexions, Superficie Arancione reveals Castellani’s vigilant, mathematical arrangement. The result is a dynamic series of waves that appear to resonate even beyond the boundaries of the canvas; aiming to invoke an illusionary effect that escapes time’s grip and comes closer to its pauses, hovering in the void between positive and negative, day and night, life and death, and eventually approaching a higher realm of the divine infinite. Castellani elaborated his primary artistic vision in the Azimuth journal in 1960: “The possession of an elementary entity–a line, an indefinitely repeatable rhythm, and a monochrome surface–is necessary to give the works themselves the concreteness of infinity that may endure the conjugation of time, the only conceivable dimension…of our spiritual need” (Enrico Castellani, ‘Continuità e nuovo’, Azimuth, No. 2, January 1960).

With its sumptuously rhythmic pattern of miniature peaks troughs and elegant monochromatic surface, Superficie Arancione represents the profound explorations of space and form that were at the very forefront of primary artistic concerns in the 1960s, and which are at the centre of Enrico Castellani’s influential oeuvre. 

This work is registered in the Archivio of the Fondazione Enrico Castellani, Milan, under the number 73-009 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.