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Art Market Italy

Art Market Italy: The Italian Sales

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Monday, 06 October 2014 16:10

Piero Manzoni, ‘Achrome,’ 1958-1959, kaolin on pleated canvas, cm 150x100, estimate £5 million-7 million. Courtesy Sotheby's.

LONDON – Christie's and Sotheby's will celebrate Italian art with Italian sales on Oct. 16 and Oct. 17 as the attention paid to Italian postwar artists continues to grow. Numerous exhibitions dedicated to Italian artists opened in the British capital in recent days: Pace Gallery has dedicated a show to Mario Merz (until Nov. 8), Dominique Lévy opens her new London space with Enrico Castellani along Donald Judd and Frank Stella (on Oct. 13), Luxembourg & Dayan shows Alighiero Boetti's monochromes (from Oct. 13) and plans other exhibitions of Italian artists such as Mario Schifano, Enrico Baj and Alberto Burri. Other galleries exhibits Italian postwar art in their booths at Frieze Masters: Marian Goodman will bring Giovanni Anselmo, Giulio Paolini and Giuseppe Penone; and Luxembourg & Dayan will present Manzoni, Fontana and Burri.

The same artists are the protagonists of the Italian Sales, annual events that have grown tremendously in recent years. It is enough to say that when Christie's started the Italian sales, in 2001, the total result was £4 million pounds, while at the last sale, in 2013, the total result reached £27 million. Last February the sale of the Italian collection "Eyes Wide Open, An Italian Vision" achieved £38 million.

So, what shall we expect this year?

Christie's auction will offer a half-century Italian art from modern artists like Giorgio Morandi, Giorgio De Chirico and Marino Marini. By the latter there will be a sculpture of Cavaliere strongly reminiscent of The Angel of the City, the famous work of art at the entrance of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice (estimate: £800,000-£1.2 million). There will be, of course, the masters of postwar art Alberto Burri with Red Black (estimate: £1 million-£1.5 million) who will be celebrated next year in October with a major retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York on the occasion of the centenary of his birth; Lucio Fontana with Concetto Spaziale, a work realized at the dawn of the space age, the year after Yuri Gagarin's first trip in space (estimate: £1 million-£1.5 million); Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani, the two founders of Azimut / H, a gallery and magazine to which the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice devotes an exhibition these days (until Jan. 19).

And Arte Povera will not miss: Christie's will offer a masterpiece by Alighiero Boetti, the Column from 1968, which marks the culmination of the artist's earliest experiments on Arte Povera and the beginning of the more conceptual direction of his production (estimate: £1.5 million-£2 million). It is a column of classic appearance made by assembling an ordinary and modest material such as the paper doilies for cakes, stacked one above the other on a central rod of iron. It is a unique piece made for one of the first exhibitions dedicated to Arte Povera in Rome and the first of a group of nine columns that Boetti realized during 1968.

Sotheby's selection goes back to the early 20th century with a major work on paper from 1913 by Giacomo Balla. The work, titled Flight of Swallows, comes from the collection of Alfred Barr, the legendary founder and director of the MoMA in New York, who had purchased it during a trip to Rome in 1948 as a gift to his wife, Margaret Scolari Barr (estimate: £180,000-£250,000). Then, there are works from the 1930s by De Chirico and Morandi, and also here there is a sculpture of Cavaliere by Marino Marini (estimate: £750,000-£1 million). Among the most important works on sale there is also a horizontal painting by Domenico Gnoli titled Waist Line (estimate: £2 million-£3 million). It was made at the height of his career, shortly before his death in 1969, and belongs to a series of 43 works that represent fragments of everyday life with aesthetic and nostalgic tones that were revolutionary in the tradition of figurative painting.

From the 1960s there will be also four important works from the collection of the engineer Giobatta Meneguzzo: Teatrino Bianco by Lucio Fontana (estimate: £400,000-£600,000), Bianco by Agostino Bonalumi (estimate £300,000-£400,000), Bianco by Turi Simeti (estimate: £80,000-$120,000) and Superficie Bianca by Enrico Castellani (estimate: £1 million-$1.5). The four works form a sort of manifesto of the Zero Group titled "The beetle under the leaf," from the name of Meneguzzo's house, built in 1965 by Giò Ponti and Nanda Vigo. Zero Group, is currently object of much attention due the exhibition "ZERO Countdown To Tomorrow," which opens Oct. 10 at the Guggenheim in New York. Already in 2010, Sotheby's offered a private collection of works by the Zero Group, that of Austrians Anna and Gerhard Lenz, which doubled the preauction estimate making £23 million.

Finally, Sotheby's will auction a masterpiece by Piero Manzoni, exhibited at the Tate in London in 2005 and the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome in 1971: a monumental "Achrome" painting from 1958-59. There are only nine works of this size, one of which is at the Pompidou, one of the GAM in Turin, one at Mumok in Vienna and one in the Rachowsky Collection in Dallas. The work is estimated to realize £5 million-£7 million.


 Piero Manzoni, ‘Achrome,’ 1958-1959, kaolin on pleated canvas, cm 150x100, estimate £5 million-7 million. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Enrico Castellani, ‘Superficie Bianca,’ 1967, acrylic on shaped canvas, cm 235x279.5, estimate £1 million-$1.5 million. Courtesy Sotheby's. 

Last Updated on Monday, 06 October 2014 16:49

Art Market Italy: Mario Merz in London

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014 14:24
Mario Merz, 'Igloo con vortice,' 1981, mixed media on canvas, sticks, bottles and neon tube, 280 x 270 x 50 cm. Courtesy Pace London. LONDON – From Sept. 26 to Nov. 8, Pace Gallery in London dedicates an exhibition to Italian artist Mario Merz. The show, staged in collaboration with the Fondazione Merz in Turin, includes works from the 1960s to 2003, when the Arte Povera artist died. It is the first Merz exhibition in London for more than 20 years. For the occasion, Pace also publishes a catalog of the works on display and archival materials. Auction Central News spoke about it with Tamara Corm, director at Pace London.

How did it come that you decided to dedicate an exhibition to Mario Merz?

Mario Merz hasn’t had a UK private gallery exhibition in over 20 years. It was time to bring him back to London. We’re working closely with the Merz Foundation to stage this exhibition and it’s an honor to work with the foundation. We met Beatrice Merz and there was an opportunity and a need for a Mario Merz show in London, historically, aesthetically and commercially.

How did it come that Merz has not had an exhibition in London for so many years?

It’s hard to say but there’s definitely a resurgence of Arte Povera right now with the recent dOCUMENTA (13) curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, one of the experts on Arte Povera, Giuseppe Penone’s exhibition at Versailles etc. We’re staging a small retrospective at our gallery at 6 Burlington Gardens, in the heart of Mayfair where most of the collectors come.

Can you tell us more about his last exhibition in London in 1993?

It was Anthony d’Offay’s exhibition, presented in 1993, and Merz was still alive. Like our exhibition, his featured one igloo. Our exhibition features a triple igloo, which is the last ever made, and it combines all the elements from Merz’s artistic language. Merz began constructing igloos in 1968 using a variety of materials, and this particular one combines many of these earthen and industrial objects—metal rods, neon, clamps, clay, glass and stone—in its tripartite structure.

How was the collaboration with the Merz Foundation born?

We announced the collaboration with the Merz Foundation at Frieze last year and we’re now staging this small retrospective. Beatrice Merz is supervising this exhibition with us and we’re delighted it’s happening. Right now, we’re focusing on this show, which will coincide with Frieze Art Fair and Frieze Masters – we’ll be at both fairs this year.

Are the works on show for sale? What is the price range of the works?

Yes, it’s a selling exhibition for sure. Any interested clients should get in touch with us regarding prices.

What is the provenance of the works?

Mainly European and American private collections as well as the from the Merz Collection.

How has Merz's market developed in the last years?

It’s a good moment for Arte Povera. Mario Merz is the founding father, the reference so it makes sense for us to show his works. We’re known for museum-quality exhibition and this is one of them. He had an impact on so many other artists today, on those who continued the Arte Povera movement, and on many others.

And in comparison to the other representatives of Arte Povera?

Mario Merz is still undervalued. As far as other Arte Povera artists, it’s hard to say.

Which are the most requested works and why?

The igloos and the Fibonacci are highlights of this exhibition because they strike something in everyone’s mind. People ask a lot about them. It’s interesting to note in this exhibition that sculptures and works on paper that express some of his most enduring motifs are also included. The show is on both floors of the gallery so plenty to discover or rediscover.

Mario Merz, 'Igloo con vortice,' 1981, mixed media on canvas, sticks, bottles and neon tube, 280 x 270 x 50 cm. Courtesy Pace London. Mario Merz, ‘Piume sulle tavole,’ 1991, paint on canvas, neon, clay 295 x 780 cm overall. Courtesy Pace London. Mario Merz, 1970, Courtesy Pace London. Mario Merz, 1973, Courtesy Pace London.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 15:01

Art Market Italy: Bonhams to auction property of Martignone family

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Written by Silvia Anna Barrila   
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 12:34

The Milanese house of Count and Countess Martignone, image courtesy Bonhams

MILAN, Italy - Seventeenth-century paintings, Lombardy neo-classical furniture and 19th-century German silver from an important Northern Italian family will be auctioned September 24th at Bonhams' London gallery. The collection of antiquities -- approximately 500 pieces in all -- belong to Count and Countess Martignone, of a noble family originating from Como and raised to nobility by Ottone Visconti, Archbishop of Milan, in the 13th century. The objects come from the family's Milanese townhouse, in the heart of the city, and from their residency overlooking the sea on the Liguria coastline.

Bonhams describes the Martignone residences as the "homes where Kings, Popes and Prime Ministers revelled." The Martignones, in fact, were famous for their hospitality. Among their guests, for example, was the last king of Italy, Humbert II.

Count Ettore Martignone was an esteemed doctor who served in the Red Cross during the Second World War, while his wife Mariella (Maria) Martignone was an entrepreneur and founder of the chemical company VAMPA. Along with their hospitality, the couple was famous for their passion for decorative art and antiques. Their collection comes to auction with a total presale estimate exceeding one million pounds (US$1.6 million).

The Milanese house contained their collection of Old Master paintings, Italian and French furniture and objects of art from the 17th to early 20th centuries, as well as an extensive collection of silverware that includes not only dining room silver, but also animal sculptures and drinking vessels with unusual forms.

The walls of the Genoa residence also were adorned with Old Masters paintings, but the furniture there was of Northern Italian provenance, lending the house a more local character. Furthermore, the gardens of the Genoa house included a collection of Classical marble sculptures.

Among the most important Old Master paintings to be auctioned are an oil on canvas with blossoming flowers, cherubs and fruit by Franz Werner von Tamm from 1694, which is estimated at £25,000-35,000; two 17th-century oil studies by a follower of Alessandro Gori, both representing animals in a river landscape, offered as a pair for £10,000-15,000. Another highlight is "Portrait of a boy," attributed to the circle of Pier Francesco Cittadini, also from the 17th century, estimated at £10,000-15,000.

Among the furniture highlightd is a pair of Lombardy early 19th-century fruitwood and ebony card tables, probably by the renowned Giuseppe Maggiolini, the most famous ebeniste of the Italian Neoclassical period, who created pieces for various European royal families from his Milan workshop in the 1700s. The pair is estimated at £12,000-18,000. Lombardy, and particularly the city of Milan, was famous for its cabinetmaking in the Neoclassical period, a style which favored clean lines in comparison to the heavy and dramatic Baroque and the theatrically ornate Rococo styles. The Genoan style, instead, still retained some evidence of the Rococo. Another highlight is a fine French late 19th-century commode in the manner of Charles Cressent, which is offered at £10,000-15,000.

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The Milanese house of Count and Countess Martignone, image courtesy Bonhams 

The Genoese house of Count and Countess Martignone, image courtesy Bonhams

The Genoese house of Count and Countess Martignone, image courtesy Bonhams

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 12:56

Art Market Italy: 5 must-see exhibitions in August

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Thursday, 14 August 2014 15:14

Takashi Murakami, ‘Red Demon and Blue Demon with 48 Arhats,’ 2013, Acrylic, gold and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board, 3 x 5 meters. Courtesy Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, ©2013 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

MILAN - August in Italy is synonymous with a sea and sun vacation. Yet there is still space for art and culture. Here are five must-see exhibitions on your trip through Italy, from the north to the south.

Takashi Murakami in Milan

From July 24 to Sept. 7, the Hall of the Caryatids of Palazzo Reale in Milan is home to an exhibition of recent works by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, known for its mix of pop and traditional Japanese culture, manga and Buddhist iconography. The exhibition, titled "The cycle of Arhat" and curated by Francesco Bonami, presents works created over the past two years. Despite its flat aesthetics, the message and meaning of the works is deeper. It reflects on topics of recent history such as the earthquake and nuclear emergency in Fukushima. "The works speak of a world attacked by the forces of nature and the self-destructive forces of humans," Bonami explained in the press conference, "but the world is saved by ‘Arhat’: ancient characters, monks who lead us through the problems of life, not to solve them, but rather to learn how to live with them. Exhibited in the Hall of the Caryatids, which was damaged both by the WWII bombing and by climatic conditions, the works take on a deeper meaning."

Architecture Biennial in Venice

From June 7 to Nov. 23, the 14th edition of the Architecture Biennial takes place in Venice under the curatorship of star architect Rem Koolhaas. The theme chosen by Koolhaas for this edition is "Fundamentals." It includes not only the exhibition at the Central Pavilion, titled "Elements of Architecture," but also the national pavilions, which are usually free to choose the theme of their presentation. In fact, this year the pavilions welcomed Koolhaas' invitation to reflect on the theme "Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014." The curator has not limited himself to set up the presence of other architects called to present themselves and their work. This year's exhibition is the result of research conducted under the guidance of the curator with the aim to propose in a new perspective the reference elements for a new relationship between us, our civilization and architecture.

Arte in Centro

From 4 July to 28 Sept., the event "Art in the Center" gathers in a single network nine exhibitions, 20 events, 100 international artists, 13 curators and more than 10 venues. It is an initiative of six foundations from the regions of Abruzzo and Marche, which arose from the need to create an integrated cultural system in an area rich in specificities; a union which represents an incentive to innovation and at the same time a way to develop the individual identities. The events take place in seven municipalities. Ascoli Piceno, for example, hosts the exhibition "Amalassunta Collaudi. Dieci artisti e Licini," which put into dialogue the works by the painter native of the Marche Osvaldo Licini with those of national and international contemporary artists. In the Cathedral of Atri in Abruzzo there is the exhibition "Stills of Peace and Everyday Life," which puts into dialogue photography, video and installations by contemporary Italian and Pakistani artists.

Maria Lai in Sardinia

Sardinia celebrates Maria Lai, the Sardinian artist who died last year at the age of 94, with a retrospective titled "Ricucire il mondo." The exhibitions take place in three museums in Cagliari, Nuoro and Ulassai, the artist's birthplace. Palazzo di Città a Cagliari hosts, from July 10 to Nov. 2, the first part of the project, dedicated to the artist’s production from the 1940s to the 1980s, and includes a series of documentaries. The video of the collective performance "Legarsi alla montagna," realized in Ulassai in 1981, is a key work in the development of Lai's languages and unifying element of the three exhibitions. The MAN Museum in Nuoro hosts, from July 11 to Oct. 12, the second part of the project, dedicated to her production from the 1980s to 2000, a moment of particular creative intensity for the artist carried out in line with the contemporary developments of the international research in the field of performance, relational and public art. Finally there will be two itineraries in Ulassai, from July 12 to Nov. 2: "Una stazione per l’arte," the old railway station converted into a museum by Lai and staged according to its original design and environmental interventions implemented in the village since the early 1980s.

Ettore Spalletti in Rome and Naples

Another great Italian artist is celebrated in three museums. It is Ettore Spalletti, born in Abruzzo in 1940, whose works are on show at MADRE in Naples (from April 13 to Aug. 18), at MAXXI in Rome (from March 13 to Sept. 14), and at GAM in Turin (already concluded). The three exhibitions collect 70 works under the poetic title "Un giorno così bianco, così bianco." The MADRE exhibition traces the artist's research from the beginning in the 1960s until today, combining painting, sculpture, environmental installations, books and projects. All central topics in the work of Spalletti are included: the cancellation of the time as a linear progression and its exploration as an eternal present; the relationship between natural data and abstract language; the relationship between painting and sculpture as an articulation of colors and volumes in space; the memory of the classic combined with modernity; the centrality of the experience of landscape; and the exploration of monochrome as a metaphor of perceptual sensitivity. At MAXXI the artist is confronted with the strongly characterized architectural space and appropriates the space composing a path built by his most recent works.


Takashi Murakami, ‘Red Demon and Blue Demon with 48 Arhats,’ 2013, Acrylic, gold and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board, 3 x 5 meters. Courtesy Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, ©2013 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Elements of Architecture, Central Pavilion, 14th International Architecture Exhibition, Fundamentals, la Biennale di Venezia, photograph by Giorgio Zucchiatti. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia.

Iacopo Pasqui, ‘Roseto degli Abruzzi,’ 03/03/2010. Courtesy Arte in Centro.

Ettore Spalletti, ‘Movimento trattenuto,’ 2001, color impasto on white Sivec marble, 16 elements, 110 x 15,5 x 17,5 cm each, photograph by Mario Di Paolo. Courtesy Madre Napoli.

Last Updated on Monday, 18 August 2014 16:40

Art Market Italy: Design at Nova Ars

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Thursday, 24 July 2014 15:18

Alessandro Mendini, ‘Superego Totem,’ An enameled totem sculpture, signed and numbered 1/8, 23 x 10.6 x 8.3 inches. Courtesy Nova Ars.

ASTI, Italy – Form or function? Decorative or utilitarian? Artwork or design object? Questions that designers and architects have always engaged and that run as a leitmotif through the lots offered on July 31 by Ars Nova, the Asti-based auction house specializing in design. The auction will be an original mix of approximately 140 pieces of design and works of contemporary art from the 1930s until today, with estimates ranging from €500 to €18,000.

The sale includes, for example, sculptures created by designers such as Separazione nostalgica by Angelo Mangiarotti (lot 11, estimate €3,000-3,500). The Plexiglas sculpture by Milanese architect and designer has created in other materials, as well, such as marble and bronze, and is composed by two items without function that one can bring closer or draw apart. There’s also the golden ceramic totem Superego by Alessandro Mendini (lot 42, estimate €3,000-4,000), a sculpture that was realized in an edition of eight on the model of 13 unique sculptures designed for the “Arts & Crafts and Design: Alessandro second time Mendini and his craftsmen” project in 2013. And, also, the perforated sculpture created by Giò Ponti for Sabbatini in 1978 (lot 8D, estimate €2,000-2,500), or the recent series of ceramic sculptures by Massimo Giacon (lots 126-143, estimate €2,000-4,000): an original series of figures in edition of 50, which combine design, comics and pop surrealism and were recently shown at the Milan Triennale.

But there will also be various pieces of design in which the decorative element prevails over function. For example, the "Hérisson" armchair by Marzio Cecchi (lot 38, estimate €13,000-15,000). Cecchi is a little-known designer, mainly known among collectors because he worked little for the industry and much more for galleries, and because he was for a long time active in the United States. Shaped like a hedgehog, the armchair was made in very few editions in 1969 and anticipated the provocations of the 1970s and 1980s, the abandonment of the dictates of function in favor of form and decoration – changes that reflected new trends in taste but also in society.

Then, there will be examples of the pop design from the 1970s, such as "The Témoin," an armchair in the shape of an eye by Dino Gavina and Man Ray (lot 18, estimate €2,000-2,500), or "Magritta," an armchair inspired by a Magritte painting by Dino Gavina and Sebastián Matta (lot 19, estimate €2,000-2,500).

Among the most important pieces in the auction there will be a pyramidal chest of drawers by Shiro Kuramata (lot 30, estimate €15,000-18,000). It was produced by Cappellini in 1968 in few editions and it was difficult to realize because it is entirely in Plexiglas and all drawers are one different from each other and inserted in a nearly 2-meter-high pyramid. Shiro Kuramata was very active in Italy and also worked with Ettore Sottsass at Memphis. Sottsass is represented in the sale with different pieces: some furniture (lots 22, 25, 32, 36, 44, estimates €3,000-10,000) and a series of jewelry (lots 67-72, estimates €3,500-6,000).

And then, again, there will be artworks related to the design, such as some photographs of design objects made by Occhiomagico and used as covers of Domus magazine (lots 82-113, estimates €800-6,000). "Occhiomagico is a group that started working in the 1970s with Studio Alchemia," says Ars Nova specialist Edoardo Scagliola. "It has been somehow forgotten but is in the process of re-evaluation. Already last October there was a retrospective dedicated to this group in Moscow during the Design Week."

However, the sale will also offer some more classic pieces, like a big table with wrought iron and marble top by Pierluigi Colli from circa 1930 (lot 2, estimate €10,000-15,000); a floor lamp by Cesare Lacca from the 1950s, which still bears the decorative style typical of the previous decade (lot 8M, estimate €1,500-2,000) and a few lamps from the 1950s, which are again fashionable, including a Max Ingrand lamp for Fontana Arte that is currently very desirable (lot 8E, estimate €3,400-4,000).


Alessandro Mendini, ‘Superego Totem,’ An enameled totem sculpture, signed and numbered 1/8, 23 x 10.6 x 8.3 inches. Courtesy Nova Ars.

Shiro Kuramata, produced by Cappellini, Pyramid, drawers, wheels, black methacrylate, circa 1968, 27.5 x 23.6 x 72 inches. Courtesy Nova Ars.

Marzio Cecchi, Studio Most, Hérisson, silver vinyl cloth seat in the shape of a big hedgehog, circa 1969, 31.5 x 59 x 51 inches. Courtesy Nova Ars.

Occhiomagico, ‘Tin Douf,’ 1979, 33 x 51 cm, vintage, c-print, hand-painted, unique. Courtesy Nova Ars.

Massimo Giacon, ‘Love carrot,’ pottery sculpture, edition of 50, Superego Editions, 2009, 22.8 inches high. Courtesy Nova Ars.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 16:49
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