Between Boetti and Albers: In Context Italian Art Highlights

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Bringing a fresh perspective to the rich works produced in post-war Italy, the In Context Italian Art Auction places notable pieces by Lucio Fontana, Alighiero Boetti and Michelangelo Pistoletto alongside their international contemporaries. Between Alexander Calder's farsighted standing mobile and Fausto Melotti's La Pioggia is a very short step indeed, pointing to the rich dialogue taking place between Italy's modern art visionaries and the rest of the world. Highlights includes the pop typography of Alighiero Boetti’s Addizione and a still life by Giorgio Morandi, click through to see our pick.

In Context Italian Art Auction
5 October 2017 | London

Between Boetti and Albers: In Context Italian Art Highlights

  • Alighiero Boetti, Addizione, 1982
    Estimate: £1,700,000-2,500,000
    Monumental in scale, vibrant in design and nuanced in implication, Addizione deftly engages with the major facets of Alighiero Boetti’s fêted oeuvre. Through a myriad of multi-coloured embroidered letters Boetti explores etymological and mathematical structures and the polarity between order and disorder. One of only four pairs correlatively entitled Addizione and Sottrazione, of which only three are in colour; the present work is supremely rare. These sets of embroideries all incorporate mathematical problems that always give, as a result, the execution year of the work. The present work includes a series of additions, spelt out vertically from top to bottom, (ie. 1901 + 81, 1931 + 51 etc.), all with the result 1982.

  • Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1968
    Estimate: £ 1,500,000-2,000,000
    With three unwavering incisions cut into a deep unblemished scarlet canvas the present work is as among Lucio Fontana’s most powerful, energetic, and dramatic iterations of his venerated series of tagli. One of the most recognisable gestures of the post-war era and the apotheosis of Abstract Spatialism, the tagli define the quintessence of the artist’s career: Fontana forged a new dimension for painting in which past, present and future collapse within the immaculate and slender glimpses of a void beyond the picture plane.

  • Alexander Calder, Untitled, circa 1963
    Estimate: £600,000-700,000
    With its ingenious structural composition, this piece is a classic and elegant expression of Calder’s internationally famous mobiles. Notably, Standing Mobile is also testament to the significant time Calder’s spent in Italy in the post-war period and the profound influence this had on Italy’s cultural environment, as well as on Calder’s own output. Having remained in the collection of the acclaimed photographer Ugo Mulas – who documented some of Calder’s most important works both in Italy and in his studio in Roxbury Connecticut - since it was acquired directly from the artist, Standing Mobile exists for us today not simply as a stunning exemplar of Calder’s distinctive aesthetic but also as an indelible memento to the broad international scope of Calder’s exceptional career.

  • Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 1960
    Estimate: £600,000-800,000
    Lucio Fontana, the master of Spatialism, pioneered a practice fundamentally driven by the promethean ascent of mankind’s technological evolution. Taking on the mantle and expanding the aims of Futurism, Fontana propelled artistic creation into the fourth dimension of space/time to herald the end of an old pictorial order. Indeed, by the time of the creation of this sumptuous Concetto Spaziale at the beginning of the 1960s, superpower politics were utterly consumed by the race for space. Herein, this painting, which belongs to Fontana’s formative series of Olii, posits a new form of artistic expression that philosophically responds to man’s technological liberation from the earth.

  • Yves Klein, Untitled Blue Sponge Sculpture, (SE 242), circa 1960
    Estimate: £450,000-650,000
    The present work is exemplar of Yves Klein’s iconic sponge sculptures first presented in June 1959 at the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris. His lavishly saturated blue sponge sculptures had evolved from Klein’s Monochromes, as an exploration into nature and space. Klein first used sponges to apply paint to his monochrome canvases before he became enthralled by the formal properties of the sponge itself.

  • Fausto Melotti, La Pioggia, 1972 (1966)
    Estimate: £500,000-700,000
    One of the largest sculptures by the eminent Italian artist Fausto Melotti, La Pioggia is at once delicately poetic and commandingly monumental. A beautiful example of the artist’s unique lyrical voice, La Pioggia , or 'rain' in English, is a whimsical mirage of nature. In dialogue with the geometric constructions of his Swiss forbearer Alberto Giacometti and the weightless mobiles of Alexander Calder, Melotti’s gracefully assembled metal sculptures reimagined sculptural boundaries. By adventuring toward new conceptions of spatial understanding, material innovation, and symbolic meaning he shaped the discourse of sculpture in the Twentieth Century.

  • Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta, 1952
    Estimate: £700,000-1,000,000
    Natura Morta  forms part of Giorgio Morandi’s lifelong investigation into the potential of the still-life genre. Following the development of key themes in his paintings during the war years, in the early 1950s Morandi continued working towards a heightened simplicity and purity of form. His search for new compositional variations remained of central importance and he began working groups of objects into compact, often flattened and centralised, formations rendered in a lighter palette, as illustrated by the present work. The composition is here anchored by the presence of a warm yellow cloth which serves to lend a particular resonance to the overall image, contrasting with the geometric rigidity of the porcelain vessels to either side.

  • Günther Uecker, Rose, 1964
    Estimate: £500,000-700,000
    A leading figure in the theoretical and liberal pursuit of an artistic tabula rasa, Günther Uecker was one of the key members of the ZERO group. He joined the group, founded in 1957 by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, in 1961. Seeking to discover an entirely new creative language unencumbered by extraneous concerns and traditional ideas of representation, ZERO artists employed light and motion as a means to radicalise artistic expression. Rose , which is a reference to the poetry of Gertrude Stein and in particular the famous quote from her 1913 poem Sacred Emily, was executed at the height of Uecker’s immersion in the ZERO group (between 1961 and 1966) and is wholly paradigmatic of the movement’s key tenets of calming purity. 

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