Enrico Castellani *
Lot No. 717 
Enrico Castellani *
  • Enrico Castellani *
  • Enrico Castellani *
  • Enrico Castellani *

Enrico Castellani *

(born Castelmassa, Rovigo in 1930)
‘Superficie’, 1960, titled, signed and dated Castellani 1960 on the stretcher, canvas in relief, 100 x 120 cm, framed in a display box, (PP)

Photo certificate:
Archivio Castellani, Milan, archive no. 60–011

Galleria Arturo Schwarz, Milan (label on the stretcher)
Private Collection, Germany
Lempertz, Cologne, Contemporary Art, 5 December 2009, lot 357
European Private Collection

Zurich, Kunsthaus, Zero. Bildvorstellungen einer europäischen Avantgarde 1958–1964, 1 June - 5 August 1979, exh. cat. no. 14 (label on the reverse)
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Zero International, 4 March - 11 April 1980, exh. cat. no. 22
Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein Steinernes Haus, Kunst nach 45 aus Frankfurter Privatbesitz, 7 October - 27 November 1983, exh. cat. p. 94 with ill. (label on the reverse)
Vienna, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Bildlicht: Malerei zwischen Material und Immaterialität, 3 May - 7 July 1991, exh. cat. p. 145 with ill. (label on the reverse)

A. Bonito Oliva, A. C. Quintavalle, Enrico Castellani, exh. cat., Università di Parma, Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione, Parma, 1976, no.15;
Renata Wirz, Federico Sardella (Ed.), Enrico Castellani. Catalogo ragionato, Opere 1955–2005, Skira, Milan 2012, Volume I, p. 91 with ill., Volume II, p. 324, no. 57 with ill.

Like Manzoni, Bonalumi and Scheggi, Enrico Castellani was one of the protagonists of the lively artistic milieu in Milan during the 1960s. A forerunner of Minimalism in Germano Celant’s words, the artist, who was born in Castelmassa in 1930 and settled in Milan in 1953 after studying sculpture and architecture, must be regarded as one of the most innovative artists after the war, as the creator of a unique, recognisable language.
Like Lucio Fontana and the other representatives of object art, Castellani aspires to go beyond painting and the illusory image that traditionally results from it, aiming, rather, to create ‘self-representing’ objects that are ‘meaningful’ in themselves. After the short yet significant experience of Azimuth (1959), the artist faithfully devoted himself to a personal, revolutionary quest based on the patient, constant repetition of one and the same gesture that is at once identical and extremely new. In 1959 Castellani gave up his informal research and began to deform the support of the canvas, thus relating the latter to space and making it perceptible by means of ‘extroflexions’, a technique he would employ without variations from that time onwards.
To the experiments of those early years can be also ascribed the work ‘Superficie’ [Surface], a canvas in relief from the year 1960, without any colours expect the natural hue of the material used. The canvas is characterised by a very distinct texture with a perfectly legible weave, its inner rhythm varies in connection with the nails which, in a perfect balance of contrasting forces, create an elegant alternating pattern of empty and full spaces, of light and shade. The present work is of an idiosyncratic and rare kind and reveals Castellani’s intention to abstain from using the conventional means of traditional painting, namely composition and colour. His only intention is to add as little as possible. It is as if the artist wished to leave the floor to the canvas itself. Using the textile in its original condition produces the sole effect of showing it simply as it is.
With a language that is both minimalist and laden with physical tension, the artist rid himself of all descriptive, sentimental metaphors, thus attaining a complete impersonality of the object in which there is nothing to interpret and nothing to see, except for what that object actually is. The surface makes room for infinite encounters, agonising waits, tautological commensurations, existential suffering and utopian substantiations. Enrico Castellani

Specialist: Mag. Patricia Pálffy

Enrico Castellani *
Convert currency
  • realized price**
    EUR 965,000
    USD 1,131,000
  • estimate
    EUR 450,000 to 650,000
    USD 527,500 to 762,000


Contemporary Art, Part I
Date: 10.06.2015, 18:00
Location: Palais Dorotheum Vienna
Exhibition: 30.05. - 10.06.2015

**Purchase price incl. all charges, commissions and taxes

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