Artist: Mario Schifano
Size: 47.5 x 29.5 cm
Medium: Cement and iron on canvas
Creation year: 1960
Marks: Signed and dated 60 on the reverse signed and dated 60 on the stretcher
Provenance: Mimmo Rotella Collection Milan; Peruz Collection Milan; Galleria Cenobbio Visualita Milan; Acquired directly from the previous by the present owner in 1978-1979;; ;; On first glance one might simply assume Mario Schifano's Untitled 1960 to be some sort of industrial component appropriated from the street and hung on a wall. Yet this couldn't be further from the truth: this is a fully realised and composed painting which in an iconoclastic manner eschews traditional mediums like oil or gouache in favour of materials normally used in the building industry. When we consider the date of execution 1960 it is clear that this is a singularly radical artwork and a rare piece from Schifano's staggeringly diverse output.;; Here the artist applied wet cement directly onto a canvas before affixing the rusted iron sheet and holding it in place with bolts. A quick look at the verso confirms this as we can see the wet cement oozed through the weave of the canvas pooling in little blobs. The bolts are also clearly visible indicating that this artwork is an assemblage in the most literal definition of the term - the use of a fully utilitarian component as an aesthetic device is something particularly radical. Paint has been replaced by naturally occurring pigment and the orange glow of the rust is perfectly offset by the cold muteness of the cement. This cement border is redolent of Schifano's more conventional Monocromi where a sheet of enamel painted paper is placed on a canvas creating a border. This leitmotif would pervade his practice and it is fascinating to see this same framework used in such an unconventional manner.;; Interestingly this artwork was in the private collection of Mimmo Rotella the avant-garde Italian artist who pioneered the use of decollage (the ripping of posters garnered from the street) in his works. Rotella was interested in articulating the trace of time on the urban environment and perhaps the present work spoke to him on a level that reverberated with the same ideals of his practice. In 1960 the same year as the present work was executed Pierre Restany curated an exhibition entitled Cinque Pittori Romani: Angeli Festa Lo Savio Schifano Uncini which showcased five young Roman painters alongside each other at the Galleria La Salita in Rome. Intriguingly similar cement works by Schifano would have been exhibited alongside works by Giuseppe Uncini - another pioneer whose practice was totally based on the use of concrete.