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Art Market Italy

Art Market Italy: Ettore Spalletti

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015 14:04

Room 1 – Salon. Photos by Matteo De Fina

PESCARA, Italy – "The color moves and occupies the space that we enter. There is no frame to enclose the space anymore. By removing it, the color takes on the space and invades it. When this succeeds, it is like a miracle."

With these words Italian artist Ettore Spalletti (below) – born in 1940 in Cappelle sul Tavo near Pescara, where he still lives and works – summarizes the process that triggers in front of his works: monochrome paintings and sculptures that are suspended between painting and sculpture, minimalist geometry and Renaissance classicism.

From the mid-70s, Spalletti has developed an original language that combines color and light. "The main instrument of Spalletti's work is without any doubt painting," says gallery owner Benedetta Spalletti from Vistamare gallery of Pescara. She is the daughter to Federica Coen, an art dealer and a collector who died in 2014 and was a key driver of contemporary art in Pescara, and to Vittoriano Spalletti, the artist's brother. "In his work the medium of painting conveys in a personal use of the mixture of color produced by a superposition of layers at regular intervals which are subsequently abraded. At this stage, the pigments are broken and the color comes out. Light and space are basic elements of his works. Every morning, when Spalletti enters the studio, he feels a sense of wonder at the sight of his works which appear always different than the day before. This is, in short, the history of his work."

Spalletti's production times are long: The color is applied once a day for 10 days and also the curing times are important because they are the ones that give the final texture of the work. The artist observes the same work for several months with different lights. Eventually the pigments are scattered on the surface and only then one can see the outcome of the working process.

The colors that are most characteristic for his work are light blue and pink. Spalletti considers them atmospheric colors more than colors for surfaces; they give off their aura about what is around and envelop the viewer. "If you take a walk in a sunny day you feel immersed in the blue," Spalletti said in an interview with RAI, referring to the sky but also to the light blue of the Adriatic Sea that mingles with the sky on the horizon line." An example is his painting Testa, la bella addormentata, 1983, 
color impasto on wood.

"Pink is for me the color of the skin that is not fixed, but depends on mood; sometimes pink becomes livid. Gray is a color that I often use because, at least for me, it is the color of hospitality, that means that it best accommodates all other colors. White is the color of light: its pigments freely move around in the room, it forces you to silence."

Ma, sì, rosa e oro, 2013,
 color impasto on wood, gold foil
 (below left) and Impasto di colore rosa, tuttotondo, 2010,
 color impasto and contè-crayon on wood
 (below right) are examples.

From a market point of view, in recent years prices for Spalletti's work have consistently increased also because of many exhibitions in prestigious museums at the national and international level. Last year, for example, three Italian museums such as MADRE in Naples, MAXXI in Rome and GAM in Turin have dedicated to the artist the most complete retrospective ever made. Spalletti has previously exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1982, in 1993, in 1995 and 1997—when he represented Italy—and Documenta in Kassel in 1982 and 1992. Solo exhibitions were organized also in museums such as the Museum Folkwang in Essen (1982), De Appel in Amsterdam, Kunstverein in Monaco and Portikus in Frankfurt (1989), the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1991), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York (1993) and the MUHKA of Antwerp (1995).

Spalletti's prices range between €30,000 and €400,000, but according to Benedetta Spalletti there is still ample room for growth and discovery. "Painting has always been his most recognized and distinctive technique; the most appreciated colors by the market are the ones that he has always used and preferred, such as light blue, pink and white," Spalletti says, and she adds: "In addition to being very much sought after in Italy, we have many requests coming from the UK, Belgium, France, and USA.

Galleria Vistamare has represented Ettore Spalletti since 2001. Other galleries are Lia Rumma from Naples and Milan, Studio La Città from Verona, Galerie Lelong from Paris and Helga de Alvear from Madrid.

Spalletti's works are currently on display at Palazzo Cini in Venice (until Aug. 23). It is an exhibition produced by the artist himself on the occasion of the opening of the second floor of the building: a house-museum was once home to the great collector Vittorio Cini, holding important paintings of Tuscan and Ferrara Renaissance painting.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 15:06

Art Market Italy: Pino Pinelli

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Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:06

Pino Pinelli, ‘Pittura R, 2010,’ 31x50 cm, acrylics on canvas, two elements. Courtesy Dep Art Gallery Milano.

MILAN, Italy – Born in Catania in 1938, Pino Pinelli moved to Milan in the 1960s, attracted by the great artistic and cultural ferment that developed around fundamental figures of Italian postwar art such as Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani. Spurred by their example, Pinelli experiments with new solutions for the surface of paintings. He investigates their geometry, shape and color, and becomes a member of the Analytical Painting, a movement of the 1970s that analyzes the material components of the painting and the relationship between the painting and the artist.

Already in the early 1970s Pinelli arrives, through a process of subtraction, to the monochrome painting. Since 1973 he titles his works simply "Painting," followed by the first letter of their color (R for red). In 1976, the classic concept of framework breaks and the wall becomes part of the work. So he creates the "Disseminations," where pieces of the work are spread on the wall. In the same years, Pinelli stops using the classic canvas and uses materials such as flannel that gives the work a tactile component.

So art critic Alberto Zanchetta writes in regard to this process: "In the second half of the 20th century painters had given up to the framework of the picture which was perceived as a constraint and an artifice. They were interested in probing the walls of museums or art galleries, allowing the works to enter into direct relationship with the exhibition environment: 'a place of events' that becomes the new spatial boundary of painting. In the 1970s, artists such as Pino Pinelli realize even the limit imposed by the frame of the painting itself. Therefore they reply with a deflagration that gives body to painting, making it matter (even more than material). Pinelli, for example, feels the need to re-establish the nature of painting itself and its assumptions, by suggesting future developments and all the possible ramifications. Even today, his painting is conceived in relation to the exhibition space, 'designed' to live together and in harmony with the architecture."

Until the 1980s, Pinelli combines shapes and colors on linear trajectories. From 1987, he starts using irregular shapes, almost fragments of matter, which combines two by two. In the 1990s, however, he goes back to more regular shapes and compositions. In 1995 the cross appears the first time, first only in red and later, from 1999, also in blue: a symbol that in recent years the artist has exhibited widely.

Pino Pinelli, Pittura R incroci, 2009, 41x41 cm, acrylics on canvas, seven elements. Courtesy Dep Art Gallery Milano

His first exhibition took place in 1968 at Galleria Bergamini in Milan. Over the years he took part in several group exhibitions not only in Italy – we remember his participation in the Venice Biennale in 1986 – but also abroad, for example in France at Galerie Lil'Orsay and Galerie Chantal Crousel-Svennung in Paris, and in Germany at Galerie Neuendorf in Frankfurt.

From a year now Pinelli is represented exclusively by Dep Art Gallery of Milan and Claudio Poleschi of Lucca. "The market of Pino Pinelli has been rooted in Italy for many years now," Antonio Addamiano from Dep Art Gallery says. "But in the last 12 months, since he has been working with us and with Poleschi, there has been a growing interest also from collectors from other European countries. In fact, his works have reappeared at fairs like Artissima, PAN-TEFAF in Amsterdam, Geneva Art and Art Paris, and new collaborations have been established with foreign galleries that have already presented solo and group shows, such as MDZ Knokke and De Buck in New York."

Despite this, Pinelli's work is still underestimated at the international level. His small works range from 7,000 euros to 12,000 euros, while the installations of six, 18 and 32 elements reach up to 60,000 euros. The works from the 1970s range from 20,000 euros to 50,000 euros.

"His language is unique and highly identifiable" Antonio Addamiano says. "Its importance in the history of art comes from being one of the founders of the Analytical Painting in the early 1970s and of artistic processes such as the dissemination and the rupture of the square. Works of this importance should cost from 50,000 euros up."

Among the most requested works are the monochromes of 1974-75, which are loved in particular by a more traditional clientele, while lovers of contemporary prefer the broken square and the "Disseminations."

Pino Pinelli, Pittura R, 1974, 70x70 cm, acrylics on canvas. Courtesy Dep Art Gallery Milano

"Now there are more and more requests from Switzerland, France, Holland, Germany and the countries where his work has been exhibited," Antonio Addamiano says. "In America, one cannot penetrate the market without a major retrospective, the public needs to know in depth all the work by Pinelli and until now there was no chance."= Until May 30, Milan-based gallery Dep Art is dedicating a retrospective to Pino Pinelli with works from the 1970s to today.

"The exhibition encompasses all Pinelli's creative periods" Antonio Addamiano says, "from the famous monochromes to the latest disseminations. All works have in common the color red which has always been one of the most used and famous primary colors by the artist – so much so that we speak of 'Pinelli Red.' "

Pino Pinelli, Pittura 86, 1986, 21x21x13 cm, acrylics on canvas, three elements. Courtesy Dep Art Gallery Milano

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:42

Art Market Italy: Giuseppe Uncini

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 13:20
Giuseppe Uncini, ‘Untitled,’ 1958, clay on cardboard, 23 x 31 cm. Courtesy Cardi Gallery

MILAN, Italy – In the last months, the market of Italian artist Giuseppe Uncini, born in 1929 in Fabriano and passed away in 2008 in Trevi, is going through a positive moment after years of ups and downs.

"Uncini's work is not for easy appreciation in comparison to more traditional paintings or sculptures, and this is what has penalized him," curator Annamaria Maggi explains. "The importance of his figure comes from having taken part in a revolution of the artistic language that was totally cleared from the contaminations of the last Informal painting. Uncini created a new language which was innovative and radical and used the means and the materials of constructions: concrete and iron."

In the artistic practice of Uncini, in fact, the idea of building is fundamental. The artist observed the construction processes and applied them to his sculptures, which reveal such building processes on their surface and through the exhibition of structural elements.

After a difficult start, the market of Uncini experienced from the 1990s a sharp increase in interest and values. Until 2008, the year of his death, collectors showed great attention to Uncini and high prices were reached. From 2008 until a few months ago, however, there has been a decline in the interest, with little demand and many unsold works at auction. But now it seems that, in the widespread trend of rediscovery and re-evaluation of the Italian masters of the 1960s, Uncini is also enjoying this positive trend.

"Prices are in constant and rapid rise and the latest auction results are excellent," Maggi comments. "His production is very wide and therefore also his prices vary according to the year, the media and the series."

The most requested works are the "Cementarmati" series: works realized with iron, cement and metal mesh that reveal the geometric and space-related research of the artist and represent its initial production, from 1958-59 to 1963. These are the kind of works that marked the latest auction records: 295,800 euros at Dorotheum in Vienna last November; 183,750 euros at Il Ponte in Milan in December; and 127,500 euros at Sotheby's in Milan in May.

"Despite the current positive market situation, Uncini remains a very underrated artist," Maggi says, "especially for certain series of its production like the Ombre, works characterized by an extremely innovative and radical language, anticipating the proposals of Minimalism, that the market still does not properly appraise."

In these works, created between 1972 and 1978, the massive architectural presence of the volumes dialogues with their shadows, which also become sculptural. The market of Uncini is also not yet developed at the global level, although it is already developed at the European level.

From April 28 to Sept. 15, Cardi Gallery in Milan dedicates to Giuseppe Uncini an exhibition curated by Maggi. The intention is to present an overview, albeit synthetic, of the entire production of the artist, from the early works, the "Cementarmati" series, to the most recent "Artifici." The exhibition coincides with an important moment for the city of Milan like "Expo," the universal exhibition from May 1 to Oct. 31.

"The decision to present Uncini during Expo Milano 2015 is his Italian character,"  Maggi explains, "and his high historical and cultural value, which are to rediscover and revalue. A tribute to a great artist, one of the greatest Italian sculptors."

Giuseppe Uncini, ‘Architetture n. 211,’ 2006, concrete and iron, 172 x 162 x 23 cm. Courtesy Cardi Gallery Giuseppe Uncini, ‘Untitled,’ 1963, collage with iron on paper, 70.5 x 50 cm. Courtesy Cardi Gallery Giuseppe Uncini, ‘Cementoarmato T verticale - orizzontale,’ 1962, concrete and iron, 200 x 100 cm. Courtesy Cardi Gallery Giuseppe Uncini, ‘Cementoarmato lamiera,’ 1958, concrete and iron, 81 x 100 cm. Courtesy Cardi Gallery
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2015 14:17

Art Market Italy: Alberto Biasi exhibitions

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Monday, 16 March 2015 12:43
Alberto Biasi, ‘Dinamica ellittica in rosso.’ Courtesy De Buck Gallery PARIS – Born in Padua in 1937, Alberto Biasi is an important representative of Italian Op Art and Kinetic Art. He came to prominence in the 1960s as a founding member of the "Gruppo N," initiated in 1959 in collaboration with fellow artists Ennio Chiggio, Toni Costa, Edoardo Landi, Manfredo Massironi and active until 1967. In his works Biasi challenges the perception of the viewer through optical illusions, lights effects and the simulation of movement.

His first experiments in this sense were the "Trame" (wefts), superimpositions of cotton gauzes, metallic wires or perforated postcards, gradually twisted to form variable compositions. Another series Biasi started in 1960 is the "Torsioni" (twists), canvases that were cut into strips and then recomposed to form torsions. According to the angle of observation, the surface changes its appearance and seems to move. Also in his "Rilievi otticodinamici" (Optico-dynamic Reliefs), composed by lines that appear to be on the same level even though they are separated by a few centimeters, the viewer activates the image through his movement. Later Biasi created the "Ambienti" (Spaces), experimental spaces that merge the space of the work and the space of the viewer, increasing the illusionist effect and of instability.

Biasi's value and collector base have consistently increased in the last three to four years. According to Italian art dealer Michele Casamonti, founder of the gallery Tornabuoni Art in Paris, there are two main reasons of this interest: "On one side it originates from the growing attention of many American collectors toward the European and South American Kinetic Art; on the other side Biasi benefits of the current extraordinary success of Italian art from the 1960s at the international level.”

Yet his work is still undervalued. "Biasi's price point remains below the level of his peers in the realm of optical art, such as Jesus Rafael Soto or Carlos Cruz-Diez," said New York-based art dealer David De Buck. "But Biasi's work has been extremely popular among our American collector base and we expect it to reach this level due to the recent increase in interest in postwar Italian art among American and British collectors. Biasi’s market in the United States will certainly grow in the upcoming years, so his body of work in general represents a great investment."

Also Michele Casamonti agrees. "I have no doubt that Biasi's prices will increase in the near future. His role as a founding member of Gruppo N and his participation in the 'Azimut' exhibitions in 1959-60 confer an historical value to his works."

Prices for works by Alberto Biasi vary according to a number of factors, but we can say that earlier works dating from the 1960s and 1970s are in demand and fetch higher prices, while more recent pieces dating from the last 20 years or so are particularly reasonably priced. Especially popular are pieces from the "Torsioni" series, from the "Rilievi otticodinamici" series and the works identified with the title "Gocce" (drops), which are iconic and recognizable.

Until three or four years ago, it was still possible to buy works from the 1960s for 20,000-30,000 euros. Now for these prices it is possible to buy only smaller works or works produced after the 1980s. Some of the most significant works from the 1960s have exceeded 100,000 euros.

But is it still possible to buy good works on a budget? "Yes," said Casamonti, "and I would suggest to do it. One can still find some small-sized and more recent 'Torsioni' for prices around €10,000. They are small jewels."

Biasi's work has been included in important museum exhibitions such as the ground-breaking 1965 exhibition "The Responsive Eye" at New York's Museum of Modern Art and the 2014 exhibition "AZIMUT/H: Continuity and Newness" at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Furthermore his work is in relevant collections such as the MoMA collection in New York, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and the Galleria Nazionale Arte Moderna in Rome.

At the end of March, two exhibitions of Alberto Biasi's work will open: one at De Buck Gallery in New York and the other one at Tornabuoni Art in Paris. De Buck's exhibition, titled "Unlimited Perception" and running through May 2, will be Biasi's first solo exhibition in New York since 1971. It will feature works from the series "Torsioni" and "Rilievi Ottico-Dinamici." Prices will range from about $40,000 to $150,000. Tornabuoni Art's exhibition will run until June 27 and will present for the first time outside Italy Light Prism, a work that was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1964 and at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in 1970.

Alberto Biasi, ‘Dinamica ellittica in rosso.’ Courtesy De Buck Gallery Alberto Biasi, ‘Gocce a sottomarina.’ Courtesy De Buck Gallery Alberto Biasi, ‘Quadrato variabile.’ Courtesy De Buck Gallery
Last Updated on Monday, 16 March 2015 13:19

Art Market Italy: Marcello Fantoni's ceramics

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Friday, 27 February 2015 14:51

Marcello Fantoni's ceramics, Courtesy Piasa Paris

PARIS –Among the masters of Italian ceramics an important name is that of Marcello Fantoni, born in Florence in 1915 and died in 2011.

His career began early. Just 12 years old, Fantoni began attending classes taught by ceramist Carlo Guerrini at the Art Institute of Porta Romana in Florence. Fantoni also took sculpture lessons from Libero Andreotti and Bruno Innocenti and drawing lessons from Gianni Vagnetti. This multidisciplinary training is reflected by his production: Fantoni, in fact, succeeded in combining the simplicity of Italian traditional ceramic with the trends of the international contemporary art research, and in giving to everyday objects the expressiveness of sculpture. Influenced by Primitivism as well as by Modern Art and Cubism, Fantoni was able to combine the plasticity of sculpture and the chromatism of painting. He focused his attention both on the lines and on the volumes. From a technical point of view, Fantoni used an archaic material like clay in the belief that it provided an untapped expressive potential. He painted all objects by hand, making them unique.

The singularity of the objects made these works immediately successful among collectors. In 1936 Fantoni opened his studio called Ceramiche Fantoni after a period spent as the artistic director of a factory in Perugia. Already on the occasion of the Florence Arts & Crafts exhibition, in 1937, his production established itself as one of the latest trends and brought him huge commercial success. Later on, in 1970, Fantoni founded in his studio in Florence a school, the International School of Ceramic Art, through which he spread his teachings and influence.

Today Fantoni's pieces are sold at auction for prices from €500 to €15,000, but they have been scarce on the market and there is a high demand for the most important pieces. They appear on the U.S. market a little more often now. Many of his objects are kept in private collections and museums including the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the museums of modern art in Tokyo and Kyoto. In Italy, his work can be seen at the Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, at the Bargello Museum and at the Prints and Drawings Cabinet of the Uffizi in Florence.

French auction house Piasa is devoting to Fantoni a monographic auction, which is taking place in Paris on April 15. "This is the first time that an important esemble of Fantoni's works is shown in Paris," Piasa design specialist Frédéric Chambre said. "Despite his presence in numerous museums and collections, Fantoni did not take advantage of an important retrospective in one of these institution. His market is still very elitist and there are not so many pieces available on the market. We do hope to shed a new light and give more visibility to this important creator and that this monographic auction gives Fantoni the place he deserves."

The sale will include about 100 objects like vases, lamps, tables and sculptures with estimates ranging from €800 to €12,000. Among the most important lots there are two sculptures in glazed ceramic, estimated between €4,000 and €6,000 (lots 7 and 36) and a table from 1970 estimated at €8,000-12,000 (lot 38). But there will also be lots at affordable prices like, for example, three small vessels from the 1960s in a romantic milky white color estimated at €800-1,200 (lot 3), and two large white vases with color drips estimated at €600-900 each (Lot 24 and 25).


 Marcello Fantoni's ceramics, Courtesy Piasa Paris

 Marcello Fantoni's ceramics, Courtesy Piasa Paris

 Marcello Fantoni's ceramics, Courtesy Piasa Paris

 Marcello Fantoni's ceramics, Courtesy Piasa Paris

 Marcello Fantoni's ceramics, Courtesy Piasa Paris

 Marcello Fantoni's ceramics, Courtesy Piasa Paris

Last Updated on Friday, 27 February 2015 15:39
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