It’s planned for next 11 April next Christie’s modern and contemporary in Milan, for its only appointment of the year in Italy. The international auction house just this year is celebrating the 60s anniversary of its activity in Italy: namely, it was the 1968 when the major auction house opened its first venue in Rome, than starting bidding in the 70s.

They’re celebrating with a very high-hand selection of works: all big names from the Italian postwar art, the same as we usually find in the London Italian sales, are the main players of catalogue which is likely thought to satisfy both the Italian collectors tastes (and possibilities) as well as by the international ones, who have become particularly fond of italian art thanks to the so-mentioned Italian sales in London and the growing interest to our arts from major international galleries. This approach, after all , is bringing several successful results over the years to Christie’s: Milan result, indeed, are growing every years with a unsold percentage of 7%, with a growing number of international collectors that now, also due to internet , can count participation’s from 17 different geographic area.

We have been at yesterday night preview and have a look to the catalogue selection,: here you have all the highlight and can’t-missed pieces

  • Piero Manzoni, Achrome, 1958 (LOT. 11). As Top Lot  which lead the Milan auction there’s the captivating purity and monumentality of this radical Manzoni’s Achrome. Like ephemeral ripples of water, windswept undulations of snow, or the folds of a sheet, the softly textured, kaolin covered surface is entirely expunged of any narrative, representational, or mimetic aspects, existing solely as it is.In this way, Manzoni succeeded in furthering the pioneering developments of both Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri to offer a radically new form of art that was at once elegant and enigmatic, while at the same time, playfully iconoclastic. Never before seen at auction, and a focus piece in the landmark 2014 retrospective of the artist held in Milan, Achrome (1958 ca.), with this work Manzoni returned art to a ‘tabula rasa’, overturning the staid, traditional conventions and conceptions of painting purifying art to an open receptacle, liberated from representation, narrative and the ego of the artist, waiting instead to be activated by the mind and imagination of the viewer: ‘The picture is our idea of freedom’, Manzoni wrote in 1957, ‘in its space we set out on a journey of discovery and creation of images’  Estimate 1.800.000 – 2.500.000 euro 
    Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
    Stima EUR 1,800,000 – EUR 2,500,000

  • Salvatore Scarpitta, Ammiraglio, 1958 (LOT. 6): So rare is to see such “bandaged” or “wrapped” canvas, that the artist realized in very few pieces in his so-called annus mirabilis 1958 in his Louvre.  Even much more rare to see it colored, with 3 colors red, yellow and blue. Like his contemporaries Manzoni and Castellani, as well as Fontana and Burri, with this series Scarpitta deconstructed the very anatomy of a painting, reconstituting its physical components to create a new and direct means of expression. Working in the immediate aftermath of the cataclysmic destruction of the Second World War, the bandaged works were in many ways Scarpitta’s reaction to the trauma that both he and his country had endured and to express the need to “repair” , “recover”, “reconstruct”. “In my previous paintings I used oils, tubes and brushes’, Scarpitta explained, ‘the tubes of paint were like shells, but I wanted to hunt the prey with my bare hands. I started ripping up the oil paintings, the canvas that had become an utter enemy for me. It was a necessity connected with my human experience; the war had changed me, the fear and desire for vendetta, I needed to run the risk of leaving fingerprints. I wanted to come into contact with the hidden, most difficult nature of things. Otherwise I would never have been cured of the war” –    Estimate: 800.000 – 1.200.000 euro. 
    Salvatore Scarpitta (1919-2007)
    Stima EUR 800,000 – EUR 1,200,000


  • Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, 1966 (LOTTO 20). It is almost inevitable to find some Fontana’s in this auction: Besides the red cut at lot 17 (Concetto spaziale, [Attesa]del 1967 –  Estimate: 700.000-1.000.000 euro) Christie’s will offer this shining silver Concetto Spaziale, realized by the artist as birthday gift to the present owner in 1966, and has always been in the same collection until now. Using a lustrous silver paint, Fontana imbues the present work with a celestial radiance that harks back to the iridescent oil (olii) and metal (metalli) paintings the artist had created in the wake of his visits to Venice and New York at the beginning of the 1960s. Enraptured by the unique play of light and glimmering reflective surfaces he encountered in these iconic cities – from the Baroque glory of St. Mark’s, to the futuristic splendour of the Manhattan skyscrapers – Fontana felt he had finally glimpsed the imperceptive workings of the universe on earth. Marrying a sense of the gilded magnificence of Baroque Venice with the utopian sheen of the contemporary urban landscape, the silver, monochrome canvas becomes a microcosmic expression of the universe at large. The buchi meanwhile, operate in counterpoint to their iridescent surroundings, inviting the light to play in and around the rough edges of their small cavities, swallowing and deflecting the light at every turn, creating dynamic shadows that seem to shift and change under different lighting conditions. “When I hit the canvas,” Fontana explained, “I sensed that I had made an important gesture. It was, in fact, not an incidental hole it was a conscious hole: by making a hole in the picture I found a new dimension in the void. By making holes in the picture I invented the fourth dimension” Executed from both sides of the canvas, the holes lend the composition a rich sense of texture, with the edges of the buchi alternatively protruding outwards towards the viewer and sinking back into its surface. Poetically conjuring a sense of the infinite and the cosmic, Concetto spaziale stretches and challenges our understanding of what an artwork can be, inviting us to consider and imagine what lies beyond the limits of our perception.  Estimate: 800.000 – 1.200.000 euro.
    Salvatore Scarpitta (1919-2007)
    Stima EUR 800,000 – EUR 1,200,000


  • Alighieri Boetti, Tutto, 1989  (LOTTO 21). Another masterpiece by the other big name in the Italian Sales is for sure  “Tutto” by Boetti from 1989. Among the last group of works that Boetti conceived and produced, the Tutto (Everything) are in many ways the rapturous apogee of his entire oeuvre, as they are the most complete and inclusive realisation of the central aesthetic of his art: the principle he called ordine e disordine (order and disorder). “Tutto/Everything” it’s a cacophony of colour and form, a tapestry of modern life where order and disorder match in a lively multitude of visual ideas and creative inputs.  Like a brightly woven jigsaw puzzle, the bold silhouettes of countless quotidian objects create a dazzling spectacle of colour and rhythm in the mosaic-like tapestry.Combining his own outlook on life with the mythical Sufi traditions of Islam that were increasingly attracting his attention, the harmonious union of the individual part and whole in Tutto allows one to glimpse some sense of the greater whole in our existence. Estimate 300.000/500.000 euro
    Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994), Tutto – Stima EUR 350,000 – EUR 500,000


  • Osvaldo Lincini, Amalasunta su Fondo rosso chiaro, 1949 (LOT 8). Definitely, a very captivating lyricism and mystic abstraction  is what makes Lincini practice so interesting, as one of the artist who has recently seen a ruturning back demand. Imbued with a lyrical symbolism and the magic of sacred geometries and numbers, Osvaldo Licini’s 1949 painting Amalassunta su fondo rosso chiaro is a resplendent example of the artist’s mystical abstract style, which dominated his practice from the 1930s onwards.Fascinated by myth, fairy-tale and magic, Licini sought to create a heavenly poetic-figurative world in his Amalassunta paintings, synthesising geometry, cryptography and depictions of otherworldly beings into a distinctive pictorial language. Through these works he endeavoured to find the fundamental truths that lie at the heart of the universe, using enigmatic signs and symbols to explore the mysteries of human existence in the cosmos. The vibrant and playful composition of works such as Amalassunta su fondo rosso chiaro form an expression of Licini’s own free spirit: the mystic soul of a poet and painter enchanted by the sensuous and semiotic pleasures of art and life.Estimate  400.000/600.000 euro
    Osvaldo Licini (1894-1958), Amalassunta su fondo rosso chiaro 
    EUR 400,000 – EUR 600,000


  • Leoncillo, Taglio Bianco, 1960 (LOTTO 18).  Leoncillo is an other artst who recently seen a a consistent interest coming back, also due to his successful results in last auctions. è un altro autore che ha visto di recente tornare un certo interesse,  grazie anche al successo nelle ultime aste. He’s in the catalogue with a white sculpture of dense abstract matter,exceptional example of Leoncillo’s mature glazed ceramic sculptures: a rediscovered masterpiece that comes for the first time to the market from a distinguished private collection. Increasingly keen to explore metaphysical notions of space, limits, emptiness and matter, these works saw Leoncillo progressively move away from the realism and figuration that had characterized his earlier works to an Informal Abstraction that rested principally on the inherent qualities of his medium of devotion: clay.Shaped, slashed and perforated, Taglio bianco seeks, defines and moves the line between the static point and the spatial dimension. Leoncillo gives the work a sense of sheer life, volume and physicality. This evolution towards a more expressive aesthetic defined by its concern with revealing the inherent form of matter itself . “If it’s true that figuration won’t do anything good to us nor to others, then let’s get rid of this last surrogate of ‘form’!  I have no intention to bow to this god. If I have to be alone, I won’t swap a warm image with a hostile presence; this internal dialogue with alien laws”.LEONCILLO – Estimate 80.000/120.000 euro
    Leoncillo (1915-1968), Taglio bianco – EUR 80,000 – EUR 120,000


  • Gino De Dominicis, Senza Titolo, 1980 (LOT 25).  We could not highlight the De Dominicis’s piece, as a very enigmatic and mysterious figure of italian postar , but also an artist who is very rare to see in the market due to his own idea of art and his artistic choices, as well as mostly to an unclear management of his estate.Haunting and otherworldly, Senza titolo is an outstanding example of a mature work in Gino de Dominicis’ mystifying oeuvre. Elaborating on his early experiments with invisibility, these late works incorporate the use of silhouetted forms that appear as if they were the footprints or shadows of the gods; spectral traces of entities that have passed through our spatial and temporal sphere of understanding, leaving only vague clues to their existence and identity. In Senza titolo, the ethereal profile of a female figure descends across a shimmering field of silver like a comet from the heavens. Reminiscent of both Picasso and classical statuary, her form appears at once ancient and futuristic, presenting an almost transcendent momentary state that seems to propose a timeless condition of permanent, unending mystery of existence. Estimate 100.000/150.000 euro
    Gino De Dominicis (1947-1998), Senza titolo – EUR 100,000 – EUR 150,000


  • Enrico Castellani, Superficie bianca, 1981 (LOTTO 38). Ometter cant-missed presence in all Italian Modern and contemporary auction is for sure Castellani and his shaped canvas, which now sees a moment of impasse after few years of burning market also due to not so always positive results in last auctions. The one offered by Christie’s is a 60×80  Superficie Bianca 60×80 from the “right” years, realized by the artist in  1981,and estimated on the line with his current market – Estimate 150.000/200.000 – We can find his name also at lot 12 with another Superficie bianca but squared (cm 61,5×61,5) and one’s only shaped in the center and earlier, from 1972 (estimate 150.000/200.000)
Enrico Castellani (1930-2017), Superficie bianca – EUR 150,000 – EUR 200,000
  • Alberto Burri, Pittura, 1951 (LOT 44). It would be just impossible not to look at an other great pioneer and innovator of our italian art during this period, Alberto Burri. By the artist we find this glistening and textured, Pittura, that belongs to the earliest period of Burri’s celebrated material paintings. Roughened by the mixture of pumice stone, bold drips of paint and free flowing lines take over the transparent layers of vinavil to produce a worn and dramatically intense work that shares the existential life of materials and things. Executed in 1951, this work dates from the crucial year when Burri, formed the short-lived but seminal Gruppo Origine (origin group), seeking to return to the fundamentals of what abstract art ought to convey – pure emotion – their founding manifesto renounced ‘openly three-dimensional forms’ and argued for ‘the reduction of colour to its simplest, peremptory and incisive expressive function’With its novel use of ‘poor’ materials and innovative technique, Pittura also represents an important precursor to the rigorous abstract language anchored in material depth which would exert itself both in Italy and further afield, as is revealed both in the Combinesof Robert Rauschenberg and in the wider Arte Povera movement.. – Estimate 220.000/340.000 –Beyond this work we can find also a sophisticated golden-leaf  cellotex Nero e Oro (Lotto 51) del 1994 estimate 60.000/90.000 and a wood Legno (Lotto 1) from ’56, definitely less demanding for its dimension and price ( cm 5,8×3,5 – estimate 15.000/20.000)

    Enrico Castellani (1930-2017)
    Superficie bianca
    EUR 150,000 – EUR 200,000

Non solo Arte Contemporanea, ma anche Moderna

However, this year Christie’s have decided to give some place in their catalogue not only to italian postwar big names, but also to some of the greatest masters from the period  immediately before, in order to offer a much more complete and  full overview to international collector of what have been Italian art over the last century, between modern and contemporary. In particular, we highlight the Umberto Boccioni’s work, an artist who have just seen some new record results during last London sales with his futurism work sold for $9 million. On sale in Milan we have instead a beautiful work from his early more realistic/yet divisionism period Ritratto di giovane, 1905-06 (LOT 30) Taking an extreme, close-up view of the young man’s head and shoulders, Boccioni places particular emphasis on the power of his sitter’s gaze, which captures and holds our attention with its sheer magnetism. This connection between the viewer and the subject is heightened by the manner in which Boccioni allows the rest of the figure to dissolve into the background, softly blurring the edges and contours of his body so that he appears to merge with the blue wall and window pane behind. One of the most significant features of Boccioni’s portraiture, this powerful, unwavering gaze imbues the figure at the centre of the portrait with a psychological complexity and mysterious allure that remains captivating to this day. Estimate: 250.000 – 350.000 euro.

Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916)
Ritratto di giovane
Stima EUR 250,000 – EUR 350,000

Alongside with this major work by Boccioni, we can find other italian figurative art masterpiece : for instance we find aGiorgio De Chirico’s piazza d’Italia from1940 ca, Piazza d’Italia con Arianna (Lot 36), stimata 150.000/200.000 euro as well as a Trovatore(lot39) estimate 120.000/180.000 euro; at lot 42 we can then find also Scipione ‘s Natura morta con tubino estimate 60.000/80.000 euro,  immediately followed by lot 43 Fausto Pirandello’s La spiaggia affollata (1939) estimate 80.000/120.000 euro; Last but not least we’d linke to clse this catalogue review with the unusual presence of an artist as Antonio Donghi whose “realismo magico” is yet so fascinating and intriguing as in  Ragazzi alla finestra (LOT 29) from 1947 estimate 80.000/120.000 euro.


Antonio Donghi (1897-1963), Ragazzi alla finestra – Estimate EUR 80,000 – EUR 120,000

So the appointment with all best from XX century italian art is on April 11 at 19 pm ,  in Palazzo Clerici,  Milano.

The sale has been preceeded for the first time by a national tour that see the work exhibited in such an “excellence” venue as  MAXXI di Roma from  23 marzo, followed by Turin Ersel di Torino on March 28, just before arriving  in  Milan for the usual pre-sale exhibition at Christie’s  Palazzo Clerici,  from April 6 to 10 


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