Mimmo Rotella

Mimmo Rotella - Ars-Gratis-Artis
Silkscreen ink on canvas
33 1/8 x 32 in. (84.1 x 81.3cm)

Signed and dated lower right, signed, dated again, titled verso


The Artist
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Oldenburg, New York, New York. until 2020

Richard Oldenburg was the longtime director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City he oversaw blockbuster exhibitions of Picasso, Matisse and Cézanne and a transformative expansion that doubled its exhibition space in the 1980s. Mr. Oldenburg older brother was the sculptor Claes Oldenburg.

This work is accompanied by a certificate from the Mimmo Rotella Institute

By 1963, Mimmo Rotella was already familiar with the pictorial and photographic ‘montages’ that characterized the historical avant-garde of the 1920s, Rauschenberg’s artworks that incorporated painting with photography and Warhol’s Pop Art of edited and manipulated silkscreen photograph reproductions. Contrary to photographic manipulation characterized by the use of color and extensive repetition, Rotella’s self-acclaimed process of reportage – also known as photographic reproductions – sought to communicate through photography’s pure informative nature while reducing the artistic interference to a minimum. More specifically, Rotella’s Photographic Reproductions are employed in the two main iconographic nuclei: the socio-political reportages and the portraits. For the socio-political reportages, the images are cropped from magazines and newspapers, and then photographed. According to the composition, one or two negatives would be enlarged and projected on to canvas to be treated with photographic emulsion in order to fix the image. For the portraits, the subject is instead photographed directly by the artist while the projection of the negative and the preparation of the base remain the same. Realising either of the two artistic processes, Rotella formed new images that, despite their alienation from their original context, would still transfer information linked to their political, religious, commercial or promotional designation. With the absence of colours transcending the values of photography’s purely informative communication, Rotella’s refrained gestural participation promotes notions of the dematerialization of art, while reflecting on the iconography and logic of its existence as an experience and as an idea.

Mimmo Rotella was an Italian artist and poet who is best known for collages made from torn advertising posters in a medium which he called “double décollages.” He was born on October 7, 1918, in Catanzaro, Italy and studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples before moving to Rome in 1945. There, he became associated with the Lettrism movement and—along with Raymond Hains, Jacque Villeglé, and François Dufrêne—became known as one of Les Affichistes, an artist group credited as the forefather of Street Art. His first solo exhibition was held in 1951 in at the Galleria Chiurazzi in Rome, and later that same year, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship with which he traveled to Kansas City University. In 1961, he was invited by Pierre Restany to join the New Realism movement, whose members included Yves Klein, Arman, and Jean Tinguely. In 1964, he represented Italy at the Venice Biennale. He died on January 8, 2006 in Milan, Italy at the age of 87

Post War Inventory