Story Dec 1, 2017 Italy

Enrico Castellani Has Passed Away at Age 87

December 1, 2017

On behalf of Lorenzo Castellani and the Castellani family, it is with deep sadness that Dominique Lévy, Brett Gorvy, and Emilio Steinberger announce that Enrico Castellani has passed away. A seminal post-war Italian artist, he was 87 years old.

A catalytic figure in the European post-war avant-garde, he co-founded with Piero Manzoni the influential journal Azimuth and Galleria Azimut in Milan in 1959. Together, they organized internationally recognized exhibitions and published essays that opposed the dominant art movements in Europe at the time, and promoted the idea of an art that did not imitate but instead sprang self-referentially from its own techniques and materials.

Born in Castelmassa in 1930, Castellani studied art and architecture at Belgium’s Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, respectively, in the early 1950s and soon began a practice challenging the confines of painting, sculpture, and architecture in search of a new paradigm. In 1959 Castellani presented the first work of his now celebrated Superficie series. To make them, he worked his monochrome canvases to produce a relief-life surface that induced light and shade effects through alternating depressions and raised areas. After the 1970s, Castellani expanded his approach to include other materials; but his focus upon a poetic marriage of painting, sculpture, architecture, and space never wavered.

Castellani’s works are included in numerous major public collections around the world, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Fondazione Prada, Milan; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma (MACRO), Rome; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. He represented Italy at the Venice Biennale in 1964, 1966, 1984. In 2010, he became the first Italian artist ever to receive the Praemium Imperiale for Painting, awarded by the Emperor of Japan.  Castellani’s work was centrally featured in ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s, a 2014 exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York that focused on transformative artists working in the aftermath of World War II.

We have had the privilege of working with Enrico Castellani since 2007.  The gallery has curated several exhibitions in New York and London that highlighted his work, including Local History: Castellani, Judd, Stella. We have also published books, including Enrico Castellani, which features a 2009 interview between the artist and Hans Ulrich Obrist, offering meaningful insight into the themes and concepts that played an important role in the artist’s oeuvre. While mourning his loss, Lévy Gorvy is committed to championing the legacy of Enrico Castellani, ensuring that his art, his profound impact, and his spirit live on.


Enrico Castellani in his studio, Celleno, c. 1977-78. Photo Franco Pasti, Courtesy Fondazione Enrico Castellani

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