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Art Market Italy

Art Market Italy: Alberto Biasi exhibitions

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Written by SILVIA ANNA BARRILÀ   
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.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
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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Written by SILVIA ANNA BARRILÀ   
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).



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

 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
 

Art Market Italy: Valentine's Day Auction

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Written by SILVIA ANNA BARRILÀ   
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 15:29

Lot 39 – One strand of 35 Australian pearls (from 15.5mm to 11.5mm) necklace, 570.77 carats, 18K white gold clasp with brilliant cut diamonds, 1,50 carats, 48cm. Estimate: €13,000-18,000. Courtesy Minerva Auctions

ROME – For the first time, Rome-based auction house Minerva Auctions will hold a sale on the occasion of Valentine's Day, but on Feb.13. It is a minor auction of jewels and watches anticipating the more important event of May 21. Alongside the jewelry, the auction offers vintage accessories like handbags and scarves for a total of 359 lots with estimates ranging from €50 to €13,000.

"The idea was born with the goal of attracting an audience that is not necessarily linked to our major auctions that take place twice a year," said Andrea De Miglio, head of jewelry, watches and silver, "but also in order to give the opportunity to buy a gift for someone else or for ourselves that is out of the ordinary and, at the same time, represents an investment in something that will surely increase its value in time, not only emotionally, but also economically."

The market for jewelry and watches, in fact, is growing steadily and has changed a lot in recent years. "All over the world new record prices were reached," De Miglio said. "New audiences have entered these sectors and new marketplaces have opened up, in particular in Asia, where they are growing exponentially. The buyers have realized that in these sectors the values depend not only the material, but much more on exclusivity and rarity."

The highest prices are reached, in fact, for very selected types of objects. "The market rewards rarity, as in the case of the precious stones in natural colors like the Burmese rubies or the Kashmir sapphires, and the objects of particular importance like the splendid achievements of the early 20th century, not necessarily realized by the famous maison of the time."

Both in 2014 and in 2013 the sector of jewelry, silver and watches was the one with the highest total at Minerva Auctions: €1,865,050 in 2014 and €1,340,251 in 2013, with an increase of 39.2 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Inside the field of jewelry, a sector that has been rediscovered in the last two years is the artist's jewelry. “It is a sector that is linked not only to the normal patterns of jewelry, but also to the artistic world of the mid-20th century; a time in which fantastic works were created. Today they are finally finding their right location and evaluation in the market." A significant example is the brooch "Archaeologists" by Giorgio de Chirico, which was sold at Minerva Auctions in November for €75,000 from an estimate of €15,000."

Also the sector of vintage bags receives more and more attention from collectors. "The most requested bags are definitely by Hermès," said De Miglio, "especially those vintage, obviously in good condition, and especially those in crocodile. The Kelly bag, the first one by the fashion house, and the Birkin bag are now real cult objects (the Kelly bag was already in the 1950s); for these bags some customers are willing to pay crazy amounts up to €50,000. But other luxury brands are sought-after, as well, like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Roberta di Camerino. Obviously we always talk of vintage objects."

But then what are the items not to be missed in this auction? "Among the jewelry, a beautiful brooch from the 1950s full of diamonds with exceptional features (lot 163, estimate €7,000-9,000), and a string of Australian pearls which are practically perfect (lot 39, estimate €13,000-18,000). Among the vintage bags, a beautiful Kelly bag, size 28, in dark brown crocodile from the 1970s in perfect conditions. It even has control certificate of the house and is identical to the one wore on several occasions by the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, who made the whole world dream (lot 345, estimate €6,000-9,000). Interesting objects more for their rarity and curiosity than for their values can be found among the silver: three trays from Tripoli from the early 20th century (lots 92, 93, 94, estimates €250-350 each) or an ancient anklet from India from the end of the 19th century (lot 91, estimate €250-350)."



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

Lot 39 – One strand of 35 Australian pearls (from 15.5mm to 11.5mm) necklace, 570.77 carats, 18K white gold clasp with brilliant cut diamonds, 1,50 carats, 48cm. Estimate: €13,000-18,000. Courtesy Minerva Auctions 

Lot 163 – white gold brooch, adorned with 163 round brilliant cut diamonds, 8.70 carats, color g/h, clarity if-vs, and 41 diamonds, various cut, 4.00 carats, color g/h, clarity if-vs with gemmological certificate number 19339 (10/14/2014). Estimate: €7,000-9,000. Courtesy Minerva Auctions

Lot 345 – Kelly bag by Hermès, dark brown crocodile, 1970s, September 2014 restoration certificate included. Estimate: €6,000-9,000. Courtesy Minerva Auctions

Lot 91 – Indian silver anklet, 535gr. Estimate €250-350, Courtesy Minerva Auctions

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 15:53
 

Art Market Italy: Giacomo Balla in Milan

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Written by SILVIA ANNA BARRILÀ   
Thursday, 29 January 2015 15:34
Giacomo Balla, 'Luminosità Spaziale,' tempera on paper applied on canvas, 24.5 x 34.5cm. Courtesy Farsetti

MILAN, Italy – An exhibition dedicated to Giacomo Balla's production of the 1920s has opened in the Milan branch of auction house and gallery Farsetti and runs through Feb. 28. The aim is to focus the attention on the second phase of Futurism, covering the two decades between the World Wars. This periord has not yet been adequately studied and appreciated as has the first phase of Futurism. From the foundation of the movement in 1909 to the end of World War I, the first phase of Futurism has been the subject of major exhibitions and monographs both in Italy and abroad.

The exhibition, curated by Elena Gigli, a scholar who has been studying Balla's work for the last 20 years, includes 20 works distributed over the three floors of the gallery on Via Manzoni. Of these, 10 are sketches made in tempera on paper between 1925 and 1929, which already belonged to the Balla House in Rome and were later purchased by a Lombard private collector. It is from these sketches that the exhibition was conceived. In them, in fact, one can capture the working method and the technical and compositional processes that led to the execution of the works on canvas. Some of these works on canvas are exhibited alongside the sketches for a direct comparison. Prices range from €45,000 to €60,000 ($51,062-$68,082) for the temperas on paper, and from €330,000 to €450,000 ($374,454-$510,620) for the oils on canvas. The exhibition has already awakened many interests, so much so that several works have already been sold.

The works are an excellent example of Balla's abstract art of the 1920s, which is characterized by dynamic lines, energy and, above all, a bold use of color. The starting point for this type of production is, in fact, the Manifesto del Colore (Color Manifesto), published by Balla in 1918 on the occasion of an exhibition at the Gallery Bragaglia of Rome. In his manifesto, the artist analyzed the role of color in the avant-garde painting, articulating his thought in seven points. Balla assumed that, given the existence of photography and cinematography, the pictorial reproduction of the real does not interest anybody, and that in all avant-garde tendencies color must dominate; color is a "privilege typical of Italian genius," is dynamism, energy, future, simultaneity of forces.

Futurist painting was, in fact, intended to represent the moving subject, the speed and the universal dynamism. Balla lands, through his study of movement, to the representation of "the speed line," which he defines as the fundamental basis of his thinking. The speed line is applied to the study of the landscape, to the experiments on frosted glasses, but also to the design for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes at the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome (then Teatro Costanzi) on the occasion of the representation of Feu d'artifice in 1917. The paintings Balla produced between 1916 and 1918, titled Force Lines of Landscape, represent an environment in which the feelings of the painter are reflected like the lights on the stage.

Going beyond the representation of the subject, Balla reaches then the "abstract chromatic decorativism." So the artist explains it: "Overcoming also the cinematic form, I threw myself into abstract and idealistic painting. These were long years of color research. ... I do not care that the viewer can find in my picture the subject that inspired it. I only care that his eye is satisfied and recreated through my combinations of colors and abstract forms. The modern man has a genius for color."

It is the same spirit that one can find in the house of Balla, a place to invent and experiment, with all corridors and rooms entirely painted and invaded by colors and geometric patterns, but also in his clothes and fabrics, which he loved to paint with speed lines and Futurist colors.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
Giacomo Balla, 'Luminosità Spaziale,' tempera on paper applied on canvas, 24.5 x 34.5cm. Courtesy Farsetti Giacomo Balla, 'Balfiori,' tempera on paper applied on canvas, 24.5x34.5 cm. Courtesy Farsetti Giacomo Balla, 'Futur Fiori Arancio,' tempera on paper applied on canvas, 24.5 x 34.5cm. Courtesy Farsetti Giacomo Balla, 'Velocità + Forme Rumore,' tempera on paper applied on canvas, 24.5 x 34.5cm, Courtesy Farsetti
Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 16:03
 

Art Market Italy: 2 Italian collections

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Written by SILVIA ANNA BARRILÀ   
Monday, 12 January 2015 14:33

The Roman residence of Princess Ismene Chigi Della Rovere, Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.

LONDON – Two Italian collections of art and furniture will hit the block at Christie's South Kensington on Feb. 4. It is a great opportunity for collectors and decorators to buy pieces that reflect Italian glamour and style in the 20th century. The first collection, in fact, comes from the Roman residence of Princess Ismene Chigi Della Rovere, one of the protagonists of the "dolce vita," while the second one comes from a Genoese noble family and is more inspired by love for antiquities.

On sale will be over 225 lots ranging from Old Master pictures to 18th century Italian and French furniture, to Art Nouveau glass, to Chinese and Japanese works of art. Estimates range from £500 to £25,000.

"Princess Ismene created a remarkable collection in her palazzo apartment in Rome, in which the emphasis was on style and beauty," said Nathaniel Nicholson, Christie's junior specialist of private collections and country house sales. "This collection is unusual in its richness and variety. The princess personally selected and ingeniously juxtaposed antiques from around the world with modern art, Art Nouveau glass and Chinese and Japanese works of art."

Princess Ismene, born in 1927 in Milan to a noble family, developed her passion for art as a university student. After meeting her husband, Prince Mario Chigi Della Rovere, in 1959, in the 1960s she lived the "dolce vita," visiting the most fashionable destinations in Europe and America and spending time with many high society figures of the time such as Christina Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda, and Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco. Her passion for art was fostered further by her friendship with the renowned Roman gallery owner Gaspero Del Corso, who introduced her to the highly influential contemporary New York gallerist Leo Castelli. With her sister Anna Maria, then a director of the Marlborough Gallery, she immersed herself in the New York art scene. Her travels and friends provided inspiration for her collection. Her first daughter, Emanuela, married Stuart Gardner, the descendent of Isabella Stewart Gardner, one of the foremost female patrons in the late 19th century, and the princess frequently visited the Gardner family in Massachusetts. After returning from New York, the princess created a stylish collection amassed from the 1970s onwards in her Rome apartment. "This collection is a personal testament to the princess’s own taste and flare," Nathaniel Nicholson explains, "which can be seen in the clever way in which antiques and Japanese and Chinese works of art are juxtaposed with Art Nouveau glass and modern art."

Among the highlights of the sale is a pair of Royal Louis-Philippe ormolu four-light candelabra (lot 53, estimate £15,000-£25,000), which display the Egyptian motifs so popular in the Empire period, and were almost certainly part of a large commission ordered by the duc d’Orléans, later King Louis Philippe of France (1773-1850) for the Château de Neuilly. Further highlights include a Louis XV ormolu-mounted black and gilt Vernis Martin commode, circa 1740 (lot 50, estimate £25,000-£40,000), which illustrates the European taste for and imitation of exotic Oriental materials in the mid-18th century; and a glamorous Italian ormolu-mounted red Sicilian Jasper coffee table, 20th century (lot 75, estimate £15,000-£25,000), purchased from Galeria di Castro in Rome, which is veneered on all surfaces with that rich and colorful hardstone and was the centerpiece of Princess Ismene’s living room.

The second Italian collection hitting the block in February in London comes from a Genoese noble family. "This beautifully curated collection, which was amassed by a Noble family in Genoa from the 1950s onwards, features a broad range of works of art including Old Master paintings, silver, carpets and European porcelain, as well as notable pieces of furniture and decorative objects which are typically Genoese in design and which lend the collection an unmistakable distinctive flavor" said Nicholson, who added: "The collection was assembled during the 20th century with the help of one of Italy’s most renowned dealers, Pietro Accorsi. Many of the pieces in this collection bear his trademark label, with the address of his shop: via Po.55, Torino. Accorsi was well respected in the European art world as an adviser and dealer to numerous prestigious collectors and institutions. He sourced predominantly Genoese pieces for this collection and contributed greatly to its overall evolution." Though the market for antique furniture is experiencing a moment of downturn, Christie’s continues to see a demand for furniture of quality, in good condition and with interesting provenance. "The February sale offers a selection of fascinating pieces of 18th century Italian and French furniture that will appeal to both discerning new buyers and established collectors alike," said Nicholson.

Among the highlights of the second collection is a North Italian ormolu-mounted tulipwood-banded and kingwood bureau plat (lot 170, estimate £20,000-£30,000). "This desk’s sinuous curved form and pierced angle mounts are characteristic of Genoese furniture produced in the mid-18th century, which was strongly influenced by French designs and was in part due to the proximity of Genoa to France," said Nicholson.

Further highlights include three pairs of Louis XVI polychrome-painted caned canapés (lots 201-203, estimate £6,000-£10,000 each): highly decorative pieces which are stamped by cabinetmaker Jacques Cheneaux, whose work is rare, and they are considered to be among his finest work.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

 The Roman residence of Princess Ismene Chigi Della Rovere, Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.

 The Roman residence of Princess Ismene Chigi Della Rovere, Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.

 The Roman residence of Princess Ismene Chigi Della Rovere, Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 January 2015 15:01
 
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