Enrico Castellani

Enrico Castellani

Enrico Castellani (b. 1930, Castelmassa, Italy; d. 2017, Celleno, Italy) established the fundamental aspects of his practice in 1959 when he stretched a monochrome canvas over a pattern of hazelnuts (later replaced by nails), creating peaks and depressions that “sensitized” the surface of his canvas to light and the effects of chiaroscuro. Over the next six decades, he would continue to develop this lexicon—the inlaid pattern, the tensile surface, and the modulation of light—by experimenting with an array of materials, textures, and colors. Another dimension of Castellani’s oeuvre emerged through what he has called “objectual works”; partly readymade installations and sculptural objects, such as Muro del tempo (1968) and Asse di equilibrio (1973). Despite their material differences, these engage the same conceptual concerns as the Superficie paintings, initiating patterns of arithmetic progression that hint at a sense of infinity. In the final decade of his life, Castellani moved further into an engagement with sculpture, producing cast aluminum reliefs that made concrete the invisible volume behind his celebrated “surfaces.”

The son of an industrial technician, Castellani enrolled at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels to study painting and sculpture before leaving to pursue a degree in architecture at the city’s École de La Cambre. When he graduated in 1956, he took a clerical position at an architecture firm in Milan. There, he found resonance in the optimistic, liberated spirit of experimentation among the city’s artists, including Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni.Castellani’s early writings confirm his major artistic influences: Kazimir Malevich, for his anti-object sensibility; Vladimir Tatlin, for his spatial awareness; Constantin Brancusi, for his rhythmic plasticity; and Piet Mondrian, for his rigorous geometries. In September 1959, Castellani and Manzoni established the short-lived but influential Galleria Azimut, where Castellani would mount his first solo show, and the publication Azimuth. Associating with Düsseldorf’s Group Zero, the artists sought to turn away from the dominant European approaches of Tachisme and art informel, and their endeavors secured Milan as an epicenter for ZERO, the vanguard international network of artists who dedicated themselves to reconceiving art’s relationship to light, space, and flux. Just as his ZERO peers were fascinated with natural phenomena, Castellani turned to the modulation of light, harnessing its visual and tactile potential.

After over a decade of material experimentation and active participation in Milan’s art world, Castellani settled in the small hamlet of Celleno, Italy, in 1973, where he would live and work for the rest of his life. The 1970s brought increased institutional attention, starting with his first retrospective at Università di Parma’s Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione in 1976. While the purview of his practice expanded to include a variety of materials and formal concerns, his pursuit of a poetic coalescence of painting, sculpture, and architecture never wavered. Neither did his drive to expand the artistic context he saw himself in. Since the ‘00s, the global import of Castellani’s work has been noted through exhibitions that have paired him with Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Günther Uecker (Haunch of Venison, London, 2009); Fred Sandback (Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels, 2010); Richard Long and Jeff Wall (Galleria Lorcan O’Neill, Rome, 2014); and Lee Ufan (Lorenzelli Arte, Milan, 2015), among many others.

In the early 1960s, Castellani’s work was featured prominently in a number of ZERO exhibitions, including tentoonstelling nul (known as Nul 62) and nul negentienhonderd vijf en zestig (known as Nul 65), both at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1962 and 1965, respectively), and Group Zero at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (1964). He was included in The Responsive Eye, the Museum of Modern Art’s popular survey of Op art in 1965, and he had his first solo exhibition in New York at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1966. Castellani represented Italy at the Venice Biennales of 1964, 1966 and 1984, and he was featured in documenta 4, Kassel, Germany, in 1968. His work was also featured in the significant surveys Identité Italienne: L’Art en Italie depuis 1959, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1981), and The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943–1968, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1994). In 2001, the Fondazione Prada in Milan organized a major solo exhibition of his work and in 2010 he became the first Italian artist to receive the Praemium Imperiale award for painting from the Japan Art Association. Castellani’s work was centrally featured in ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s, a 2014–15 exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, as well as in the similarly themed ZERO is INFINITY at the Yayoi Kusama Museum, Tokyo, 2020. Works by Castellani can be found in the collections of major public institutions, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fondazione Prada, Milan; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Lévy Gorvy has presented several exhibitions of Castellani’s work in New York and London, including Local History: Castellani, Judd, Stella in 2014–15, Enrico Castellani: Interior Space in 2016, Remembering Enrico Castellani: Redefining Space in 2018, and Castellani: Sculpture in 2021. Our publication Enrico Castellani features an interview between the artist and Hans Ulrich Obrist, offering meaningful insight into the themes and concepts that informed his oeuvre. Having had the privilege of working directly with the artist since the gallery’s inception, Lévy Gorvy continues to champion Castellani’s legacy in close collaboration with the Fondazione Enrico Castellani.

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Selected Works

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  • Superficie nera
    1964
    Acrylic on canvas
    18 15/16 x 23 5/8 inches (48 x 60 cm)

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  • Superficie biangolare cromata
    2011
    Acrylic and resin on canvas
    27 1/2 x 19 11/16 x 39 3/8 inches (70 x 50 x 100 cm)

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  • Superficie
    1974
    Acrylic on canvas
    59 x 59 inches (150 x 150 cm)

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Video

40 Albemarle | Enrico Castellani

December 2, 2020

Exhibitions

Selected Press

Antiques Trade Gazette | Go solo: a selection of dedicated shows

February 27, 2021

An exhibition of previously unseen aluminium cast wall sculptures by Castellani opens at Lévy Gorvy’s …

Flash Art | “Castellani | Sculpture” Lévy Gorvy / London

February 16, 2021

Lévy Gorvy is pleased to announce “Castellani | Sculpture”, an exhibition debuting previously unseen …

Il Sole 24 Ore | Ritrovare l'arte: mostre, musei e retrospettive da scoprire online

December 30, 2020

Tra le moltissime visitabili a distanza: Lévy Gorvy con Michelangelo Pistoletto, 40 albemarle Enrico …

Arts Life | Altorilievi di Enrico Castellani per la prima volta nel Regno Unito. L’anteprima della mostra

December 18, 2020

La Fondazione Enrico Castellani e Lévy Gorvy annunciano la mostra Castellani | Sculpture, una serie …

GalleriesNow | Castellani Sculpture at Lévy Gorvy

December 2, 2020

“Castellani: Sculpture” will debut previously unseen aluminium cast wall sculptures by the artist, …

The Telegraph | How lockdown forced the rarefied art world to reconsider the premium it places on privacy

December 1, 2020

Street level art galleries with large windows have had an advantage during lockdown, as clients can view …

Artforum | ENRICO CASTELLANI (1930–2017)

February 2, 2018

Castellani found his strength in testing out and constructing ever-changing relationships between surface …

The Guardian | Enrico Castellani obituary

December 17, 2017

One of the great Italian artists of the 20th century, regarded as the ‘father of minimalism’

The New York Times | Enrico Castellani, Artist in the Postwar Avant-Garde, Dies at 87

December 12, 2017

Mr. Castellani participated in the swirl of movements and self-proclaimed groups, some armed with manifestoes, …

Artnet | Italian Avant-Garde Painter Enrico Castellani, Who Helped Pioneer the Zero Movement, Has Died at 87

December 4, 2017

"Castellani should be remembered as one of the people that changed the language of art,” Emilio Steinberger, …

Blouin Artinfo | Works by important Italian Postwar Avant-Garde artists at Lévy Gorvy New York

July 26, 2017

Works by artists like Alighiero Boetti, Alberto Burri, Enrico Castellani, Jannis Kounellis, Piero Manzoni, Giulio …

Christie's | 10 things to know about Enrico Castellani

April 6, 2017

An essential guide to the Italian artist who rose to fame with his monochromatic reliefs, and was hailed …

New York Times | The Look of ’70s SoHo — Captured in One Apartment

February 9, 2017

The apartment, with its fine examples by Günther Uecker, Enrico Castellani, Lucio Fontana and Agostino …

StyleZeitgeist | Enrico Castellani at Dominique Levy

April 15, 2016

If you happen to be in New York this spring, Enrico Castellani’s new exhibit, Interior Space, at the …

Wallpaper | A show at Dominique Levy proves Enrico Castellani's cutting-edge credentials

April 13, 2016

Donald Judd once referred to the Italian artist Enrico Castellani as the ‘father of minimalism’. …

Art Bahrain | Enrico Castellani

April 8, 2016

Dominique Lévy is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition in London by Enrico Castellani, with …

Mousse Magazine | Enrico Castellani “Interior Space” at Dominique Lévy, New York

April 3, 2016

Dominique Lévy is pleased to announce a solo exhibition in New York by Enrico Castellani, with whom …

ARTE | Castellani La concretezza dell'infinito

March 1, 2016

Grandi protagoniste delle Italian sale, la aste londinesi che negli ultimi 15 anni hanno rilanciato l'arte …

Kaleidoscope | Boom!

February 19, 2016

For decades, post-war Italian art seemed to hide in plain view: revered by knowing critics and dealers, …

Blouin Artinfo | Enrico Castellani’s Landmark Solo Show at Dominique Levy London

February 17, 2016

Dominique Lévy is presenting Italian artist Enrico Castellani’s first solo exhibition in London at …

Il Sole 24 Ore | Manzoni and Castellani, the pioneers of the avant-garde in London

February 12, 2016

LONDON - The Italian art of war is the protagonist in this London winter: two extraordinary

Wallpaper | Scope for contemplation: Enrico Castellani at Dominique Lévy Gallery

February 9, 2016

In 1959, two Milan-based artists – Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni – opened the gallery Azimut, …

Financial Times | Critics' Choice: Enrico Castellani

February 7, 2016

The first London solo show for the Italian artist focuses on large-scale shaped relief canvases ...

Widewalls | Enrico Castellani for the First Time in London with Dominique Lévy

February 4, 2016

There is something truly sublime about the paintings of Enrico Castellani. An inexplicable urge to touch …

The Telegraph | Art Sales: London’s international art scene

January 26, 2016

Over the last four years, there has been a steady stream of international art galleries opening branches …

FT How To Spend It | Enrico Castellani at Dominique Lévy

January 25, 2016

Painting, sculpture and architecture coalesce in the large-scale monochromatic works of Enrico Castellani …

THE ART NEWSPAPER | Enrico Castellani says ‘yes’ to rare solo show

October 14, 2015

Dominique Lévy gallery will present the first ever London solo exhibition dedicated to the octogenarian …

Huffington Post | Sotto Voce: The Best Art Show in London Today

March 12, 2015

At some era, different artists from different parts of the globe seem to be working on the same wavelength, …

The Arts Desk | Sotto Voce, Dominique Lévy

February 14, 2015

Sotto Voce is a collection of white paintings, sculptures and reliefs made by European, British and North …

Apollo Magazine | Pure abstraction: ‘Sotto Voce’ and the appeal of the abstract white relief

February 10, 2015

‘Abstract white relief’ is not an easy term to get your head around. It can sound highly technical, …

TimeOut London | Sotto Voce

February 10, 2015

Everything’s all white in this group show of big names including Jean Arp, Ben Nicholson, Lucio Fontana …

Architectural Digest | Abstract White Reliefs are the Subject of a London Gallery Show

January 31, 2015

The abstract white relief, as envisioned by artists from diverse locations, generations, and affiliations, …

Aesthetica | Sotto Voce, Dominique Lévy Gallery, London

January 9, 2015

The second show at Dominique Lévy’s new London space will map the progression of the abstract white …

Art and Photography | Castellani, Judd, Stella - Dominique Lévy

December 28, 2014

How did I miss this? This exhibition opened on 13 October and I have only just picked up on it. An exhibition …

The New York Times | 3 Artists Exploring 3 Dimensions

December 18, 2014

Art would be a little better off if some museum would organize a good-sized exhibition representing all …

World Sculpture News | A Transformative Period

November 30, 2014

Dominique Lévy gallery is presenting a transatlantic exhibition that captures a fleeting but profound …

Inventory Magazine | LOCAL HISTORY: CASTELLANI, JUDD, STELLA

November 19, 2014

To mark the opening of Dominique Lévy's new space at 22 Old Bond Street, the gallery is hosting a group …

The New York Times | At Galleries, Slices of Art History

October 23, 2014

Historical surveys are a popular mainstay among gallery owners. And now success appears to have multiple …

Glass Magazine | Local history – examining a pivotal intersection between three postwar artists

October 22, 2014

Dominique Lévy gallery is presenting Local History, a transatlantic exhibition that presents the moment …

Huffington Post | Beyond Frieze: Top 5 Satellite Events in London This Week

October 17, 2014

Frieze London opens this week (through Saturday, October 18), and includes a whirlwind of programs including …

Blouin Artinfo | 18 Must-See Gallery Shows During Frieze Week in London

October 14, 2014

Branch out beyond Reagent’s Park and visit the best of what London’s galleries and institutions have …

Vogue | 5 Shows to See in London During Frieze Week (That Aren’t at Frieze)

October 14, 2014

Of the very few art fairs legitimately considered absolute-musts, Frieze London is perhaps the only one …

Art on a Postcard | Love from Mayfair

October 14, 2014

Frieze week begins. And everyone who has anything to do with the art world feels a little bit more stressed. …

Apollo Magazine | London Diary: 13 October

October 13, 2014

Every morning until the end of Frieze, we’ll be rounding up some of the latest exhibition openings …

Blouin Artinfo | Enrico Castellani, One of Minimalism’s Fathers

October 7, 2014

The publicity-shy Italian artist Enrico Castellani rose to prominence in the 1960s with paintings that …

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