Art Market Italy: Modern, Contemporary Art at Minerva
ROME – Rome-based auction house Minerva opens its auction season with a sale of Modern and Contemporary Art on Nov. 14. Approximately 160 lots will be offered ranging from the early 20th century to the 1960s. Included are works of graphic art, drawings, works on paper, paintings and sculptures. This variety is reflected in the estimates which range from €100 to €200,000. ($134 to $268,694).
“I started preparing this auction last June,” Minerva’s specialist Giorgia Bava said to Auction Central News. “The first things I saw were two drawings by Soffici: two caricatures of Luigi Russolo and Decio Cinti from 1914 (lots 98 and 99). I immediately recalled the images I had seen on my art history books at university. We consulted Professor Luigi Cavallo from Milan, who is Soffici’s expert as well as Rosai’s, and he confirmed the importance of these drawings. I am very happy to present them.”
Luigi Russolo and Decio Cinti were two very important figures of Futurism. Decio Cinti was Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s secretary and the translator into Italian of his texts until 1912, as he used to write in French. He also translated some renowned French poets, and was the author of the dictionary of synonyms and antonyms. Russolo was a painter, musician and inventor. Cinti’s caricature was published on July 15, 1914 in the magazine Lacerba, founded in Florence in 1913 by Giovanni Papini and Soffici, and published for a year and a half until May 1915. Russolo’s caricature is a variation of another one published in the same magazine on April 15, 1914 (estimate: €4,000-€5,000 each).
“Over the past 10 years there has been an increased interest not only in Futurism, which has always been strong, but also in the second Futurism, or Aeropittura, which followed the teachings of Futurism in the 1920s and 1930s,” Giorgia Bava said. “We hope to ride this wave of interest.”
Also at auction on Nov. 14 there will be an important painting from 1929 by Giacomo Balla (cover lot, number 103). It comes from the house of Balla himself. It was there until 1993, when it was sold following an estate division. Art historian Elena Gigli helped reconstruct its history: with great creativity, Balla had painted this canvas to cover some pipes in the corridor. A few years ago the work was exposed in Milan at the gallery Arte Centro, but this is the first time it is offered at a public auction. The estimate is €200,000-€250,000.
Balla will be also represented through a piece of furniture made in the early 1920s, while he was a guest of Count Filippo Lovatelli in Argiano, Tuscany. It remained in the family until 2000 and then it passed on to a private collection. It is called Futur-Camera con lampada and is estimated €50,000-€70,000 (lot 100).
Also in the Futurist category is a head by Renato Bertelli, who became famous for the Continuous profile of Mussolini. In recent years this sculptor has been rediscovered and brought excellent results at auction exactly with this profile, which was realized in various materials. Its importance lies in the historical evolution of the portrait, as it represents it in continuous movement. This version is in terra-cotta and is estimated €4,000-€6,000 (lot 101).
Beyond this important core of Futurist and Post-futurist works, the auction offers various works of Italian figurative art from the 20th century, which are currently undervalued and therefore may represent an opportunity for investment. “In recent years the prices of this type of art have deeply fallen despite being works by very valid authors,” Giorgia Bava said. “We are experiencing a change of taste. In many cases it is a generational change: inherited works that are sold to buy the most popular art or photography. Prices have fallen in a way that was inconceivable five years ago. But they will certainly raise again, so it is worth buying now.”
An example is lot 120, a painting by Virgilio Guidi now estimated €6,000-€8,000. A few years ago it would have reached €30,000, notes Bava. Another example is a painting by Franco Gentilini representing the artist’s studio (lot 117). It is not one of the artist’s classic subjects, such as the cathedrals or the banquets, which are later and very appreciated by collectors. This one is a discovery and therefore is not in the catalogue raisonné. Still, it resumes another recorded work, adding to it a great abundance of details. For example, the paintings on the walls which, according to Gentilini’s second wife, Luciana Gentilini, were the real ones on the walls of the artist’s studio. According to Giorgia Bava the work in the catalog looks like a draft in respect to the one coming up at auction. The estimate is €5,000-€7,000.
Moving on to more contemporary works, we find works by Nunzio, Boetti, Schifano, Franco Angeli and Tano Festa. There are two works on paper from the 1950s by Carla Accardi (lot 131, estimate €3,500-€4,500) and Capogrossi (lot 132, estimate €8,000-€12,000) that have already attracted many interests. And then there is a work by Giulio Turcato from the late 1960s with oil and sand on canvas of 90 x 90 cm (lot 139, estimate €6,000-€8,000). There is also a large work by Achille Perilli (lot 138, estimate €15,000-€20,000). Vettor Pisani is represented through a work that is an homage to the grandmother of artist Gino De Dominicis. Again, Bava explains that Pisani is an artist who has not achieved brilliant results at auction until now, but he should be re-evaluated.
ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE