Selected Early Works
New York, 130 East 64th Street
While Pop Art was taking New York art scene by storm, a group of European counterparts, Italians to be more precise, found a remarkable parallel voice on the other side of the Atlantic, under the influence of rapidly burgeoning media culture. In addition to Salvatore Scarpitta and Mario Schifano, Mimmo Rotella emerged amidst the consumerist movement in Italy following its own Industrial Revolution. Retuning to Rome from a residency in Kansas City University in 1952, Rotella, who had firsthand chance to observe America’s relationship with pop culture, media, and commercialism, went out to streets in the Italian capital to collect advertisement banners off of the walls.
Dedicated to early stages of Rotella’s experiments with media as artistic medium, Gladstone Gallery’s Selected Early Works focuses on the era between 1953 and 1962. Either using fronts of these colorful and overly aestheticized advertisements of film, consumerist goods, and politics or using their glue and plaster stained backs, Rotella’s mixed media collages blend a vast source of narratives and forms into complex arrangements. Emphasizing the abundance of visual stimuli individuals encounter on regular basis through various channels of communication, Rotella captured a very common discussion of our times half a century ago.
“Like Andy Warhol, he was fascinated by Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. Unlike his American counterpart, however, he relished the physical processes of making art, creating so-called décollages by tearing layers of film posters stuck on canvas to recreate the appearance of peeling billboards. Nothing could evoke more potently the ephemeral glamour of the modern city,” said Christopher Masters on The Guardian, discussing Warhol and Rotella, in the artist’s obituary published following his death in 2006.
Selected Early Works is at Gladstone 64 Gallery until April 15, 2017