Mimmo Rotella, Ventimila anni avanti Christo, 1956, 1986, Silkscreen on cloth, 260 × 120 cm
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 260 × 120 cm
    (102 ⅜ × 47 ¼ inches)
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  • Domenico “Mimmo” Rotella was an Italian artist and part of the European Nouveau Réalisme movement. After completing art studies in Naples, he moved to Rome in 1945. In the capital’s lively cultural atmosphere, Rotella came into contact with exponents of the Italian Forma 1 group and the geometries of abstraction and Post-Cubism. Parallel to a growing interest in painting, he became interested in phonetic or “epistaltica” poetry, chanting compositions of invented and interwoven sounds. As early as the 1950s, Rotella exhibited in France and Italy, collaborating with critics such as Palma Bucarelli and Giulio Carlo Argan. He traveled for one year to the United States with a Fulbright Scholarship, holding a solo exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Strongly influenced by Pop Art, Neo-Dada, and the experiments of Ultra Lettrism, from 1954 onwards, he created his first décollages, eventually tying in with the Nouveau Réalisme movement from the 1960s onward. By addressing the relentless pace of advertising communication, Rotella’s décollages are composed of torn posters taken from city walls. The nearly complete absence of figuration distinguishes the earliest compositions created with this technique, an example of which are the monochrome works of the Retro d’affiches series (1953–61). In later works, such as Marilyn Monroe (1963), colors, letters, and the famous visages of mass communication icons emerge from the layering of tears. In 1960, Pierre Restany published the Nouveau Réalisme manifesto—signed by, among others, Yves Klein, Arman, François Dufrêne Daniel Spoerri, and Jean Tinguely—which aimed at a perceptual return of art to reality. Although Rotella was not among the first signatories, he participated in the group’s subsequent events, joined by Niki de Saint Phalle, César, and Christo. In the following years, Rotella participated in the exhibitions and activities of the historic Galerie J in Paris, run by Jeannine de Goldschmidt. Rotella’s works were featured in exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art and Sidney Janis Gallery in New York in 1961 and 1962 respectively, as well as at the 1964 Biennale di Venezia. Living between Milan, Paris, and the New York of Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein, Rotella also engaged in photography and photomontage and dedicated himself to poetry by taking part in the event Poésie action. Poésie sonore 1955–1975, organized by the poet Bernard Heidsieck in Paris in 1976. In addition to being part of the most important international collections, Rotella’s works have been exhibited in major museums, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as The Museum of Modern Art (1990) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1996), both in New York. Retrospectives have been held at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (2003), the Museum Tinguely in Basel (2005), and the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome (2019).

Artworks (3)