Lot 138
  • 138

AFRO | Rosso col Bianco

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
187,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Afro
  • Rosso col Bianco
  • signed and dated 56
  • oil on canvas


Galerie Änne Abels, Cologne
Private Collection, Germany 
Thence by descent to the present owner


Cologne, Galerie Änne Abels, Afro, March - May 1959


Mario Graziani, Afro, Catalogo Generale Ragionato Dai Documenti Dell'Archivio Afro, Rome 1997, p. 164, no. 367, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

In 1958, two years after winning the Prize for the best Italian Artist of the Venice Biennale, Afro would win the Guggenheim International Award and execute this intimate masterpiece Rosso Col Bianco. The present work is a symphonic feast of creative expression from Italy’s foremost cosmopolitan artist who would come to bridge American Abstract Expressionism and European Art Informel.

Deftly composed in a symphony of white, red, blue, yellow and black, the present work is a masterwork of brushwork and colour. The chromatic palette is reduced to five colours yet their soft comingling renders the work atmospheric and ethereal. The sublime composition exudes a superior energy that binds the viewer’s gaze on this spectacle of expression.

A prime example of a truly global citizen Afro would, following his first solo show at the Catherine Viniani Gallery in New York in 1950, become a key figure linking the European Art Informel movement with the Abstract Expressionists who were gaining momentum in the US. The years leading to the execution of Rosso col Bianco saw Afro divert from a more conservative tonality, advancing towards greater abstraction: "I accepted the fact that the pictorial image realised itself in an organic and unexpected way, that the forms expand in a disquieting way, that the colours may take on a life of their own" (Afro cited in: Lionello Venturi, Pittori Italiani d'Oggi, Rome 1958, pp. 93-94). The artist’s new paintings were motivated by his desire to express memory and emotion. The influence of the Abstract Expressionists on his approach is particularly visible through the development in his creations throughout the 1950s and 60s that would qualify his work as a sublime hybrid of the predominant styles of the avant-garde. Arshile Gorky’s morphology would strongly inform both Afro’s as well as his friend Willem de Kooning’s creations, resulting in unique synergies between the latter two artists’ consecutive bodies of work. Rosso col Bianco is a standout example of de Kooning’s influence on Afro’s painting and its deep origins in Gorky’s morphology.