Saturday 9 April 2011

Mimmo Rotella – décollages part 2

Here is part 2 of my posts on the décollages of Italian artist Mimmo Rotella, showing some of his numerous works that featured Marilyn Monroe, a theme he came back to time and again. For information on how décollage works, and for biographical information on Rotella, see Part 1.

 Facciamo l'Amore

 Fermata d'Autobus

 La Magnifica Preda

 La Magnifica Preda

 Ladies of the Chorus

 Marilyn the Myth

 Omaggio a Marilyn (Homage to Marilyn)

 Omaggio a Marilyn

 Omaggio a Marilyn

 Omaggio a Marilyn

 Omaggio a Marilyn

 Quando la Moglie é in Vacanza

 Some Like it Hot

 The Asphalt Jungle

The Seven Year Itch

Thursday 7 April 2011

Mimmo Rotella – décollages part 1

Following on from the collages of Kurt Schwitters, I thought I’d take a look at some comparative work by the Italian artist Mimmo Rotella. The difference is that Rotella was an exponent of décollage.

Décollage, in art terms, is the opposite of collage - instead of an image being built up of all or parts of existing images, it is created by cutting, tearing away or otherwise removing pieces of an original image. Examples include inimager, etrécissements and excavations. A similar technique is the lacerated poster, a poster in which one has been placed over another or others, and the top poster or posters have been ripped, revealing to a greater or lesser degree the poster or posters underneath.

Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Rotella (1918 – 2006) was born in 1918 in Catanzaro, Italy. He studied art at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples, and moved to Rome in 1945. After his figurative beginnings, he developed an abstract and geometrical style. As an alternative form of expression, he invented “epistaltic” poetry in 1949, a combination of words (sometimes invented), sounds, and onomatopoeic reiteration. In 1951 he held his first solo exhibition at the Galleria Chiurazzi in Rome. In the same year he won a Fulbright Foundation scholarship and was therefore able to travel to America, where he studied at Kansas City University. During his time there he created a mural composition, showed at the Nelson Gallery of Kansas City, and held a performance of phonetic poetry at Harvard University in Boston.

Rotella moved back to Rome in 1953, and after overcoming a crisis in his personal life, he produced his first Décollages. In these works he glued onto canvas parts of advertisements that he had ripped off city walls. With these initial pieces he pursued his investigation into abstract art. After 1958, however, he devoted himself to figurative décollage and created the Cinecittà series, using figures and faces from film posters. Marilyn Monroe became one of the icons of his work.

1963 Marylin

In this first of two parts on Rotella, I am showing a cross-section of his work – part two will show some more of the many Marilyn pieces. My personal preference is for his earlier, more considered pieces with muted colours - the first few images shown below, and Marilyn above.
In 1961 Rotella accepted the art critic Pierre Restany’s invitation to become part of the Noveau Réalisme movement, and three years later he moved to Paris. There he developed a process called “Mec-Art” in which by projecting negative images on an emulsion covered canvas, he created work which was shown for the first time in the Galerie J. in 1965. He then made the Artypo series, created by randomly gluing typographic proofs onto canvas, and in 1975 his first Plastiforme, where ripped posters were placed on a polyurethane support.

Rotella moved to Milan and created, in the 1980s, his blanks, covering the ripped posters with monochrome sheets of paper. In 1984 he began painting and produced the series Cinecittà 2, followed by the Sovrapitture, painting directly onto advertisements. He exhibited at the Centre Pompidou of Paris and at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1990, and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1994. In 2000 the Foundation Mimmo Rotella opened; its aim is to promote contemporary art and to preserve the artist’s work. Mimmo Rotella died in Milan in 2006.

 1958 Una pelliccia di visione

 1960 8 Sopra


 1962 Cinemascope

1964 Marlene 

 C'era una Volta

 Casablanca 1

 Casablanca 2


 Circo Orfei 1

 Dangerous Liaisons


 East of Eden


 Il Gigante

 La Dolce Vita

To Catch a Thief 1

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Kurt Schwitters - collages

I thought I'd take a look at the most famous famous exponent of the art of collage, Kurt Schwitters. Schwitters (1887 – 1948) was born in Hannover, Germany. He attended the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hannover from 1908 to 1909 and from 1909 to 1914 studied at the Kunstakademie Dresden. After serving as a draftsman in the military in 1917, Schwitters experimented with Cubist and Expressionist styles. In 1918, he made his first collages and in 1919 invented the term “Merz,” which he was to apply to all his creative activities: poetry as well as collage and constructions.

This year also marked the beginning of his friendships with Jean Arp and Raoul Hausmann. Schwitters’s earliest Merzbilder date from 1919, the year of his first exhibition at Der Sturm gallery, Berlin, and the first publication of his writings in the periodical Der Sturm. Schwitters showed at the Société Anonyme in New York in 1920.

With Arp, he attended the Kongress der Konstructivisten in Weimar in 1922. There Schwitters met Theo van Doesburg, whose De Stijl principles influenced his work. Schwitters’s Dada activities included his Merz-Matineen and Merz-Abende at which he presented his poetry. From 1923 to 1932, he published the magazine Merz. About 1923, the artist started to make his first Merzbau, a fantastic structure he built over a number of years; the Merzbau grew to occupy much of his Hannover studio.

The original Merzbau in Schwitter's Hannover studio

During this period, he also worked in typography. Schwitters was included in the exhibition Abstrakte und surrealistische Malerei und Plastik at the Kunsthaus Zurich in 1929. The artist contributed to the Parisian review Cercle et Carré in 1930. In 1932 he joined the Paris-based Abstraction-Création group and wrote for their organ of the same name. He participated in the Cubism and Abstract Art and Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism exhibitions of 1936 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The Nazi regime banned Schwitters’ work as ‘degenerate art’ in 1937. This year, the artist fled to Lysaker, Norway, where he constructed a second Merzbau. After the German invasion of Norway in 1940, Schwitters escaped to Great Britain, where he was interned for over a year.

He settled in London following his release, but moved to Little Langdale in the Lake District in 1945. There, helped by a stipend from the Museum of Modern Art, he began work on a third Merzbau in 1947. The project was left unfinished when Schwitters died in 1948 in Kendal, England.

Schwitters' London home at 39 Westmorland Road, Barnes.

 1919 Bild mit heller Mitte [Picture with Light Centre]

 1919 Das Undbild [The And-Picture]

 1919 Revolving

 1921 Merz 299

 1921 Merz 460 Two Underdrawers

 1922 Der Weihnachtsmann [Santa Claus]

 1922 Merz 410 irgendsowas [Something or Other]

 1922 Table Salt

 1923 Aphorism

 1923 Merz 231 Miss Blanche

1925 Elikan

1928 Untitled

1930 Oorlog

1937-38 Opened by Customs

1938 Die Fruhlingstur [The Spring Door]

1942-43 [Difficult]

1944 [Hitler Gang]

1947 The Holy Night by Antoni Allegri, known as Corregio, 
worked through by Kurt Schwitters]