are at the core of modern Italian art. Daring and pioneering figures including Alighiero Boetti, Agostino Bonalumi, Gianni Colombo, Tano Festa, Mimmo Rotella and Paolo Scheggi demolished and reconfigured Western artistic practice.
Moving beyond the painted surfaces and methods of American Abstract Expressionism and European Art Informel, Roman artists in particular embraced unconventional materials in works which reconceptualized modernist collage. Rotella tore advertising posters from the capital’s walls, layering the fragments before ripping and incising them to create new, unpredictable forms. Tano Festa, another prominent member of the Piazza del Popolo School, began incorporating objets trouvés in his work, transforming the detritus of everyday urban life such as shutters, doors and windows into strange, Dada-esque portals.
In Milan, artists like Scheggi and Bonalumi pushed beyond the confines of canvas, often abandoning it in favour of new materials. Lucio Fontana had pioneered daring Spatialist artworks, slicing and puncturing a range of supports to reveal the infinity of the space beyond. Scheggi put his own slant on the Spatialist investigation of the void, overlapping layers pierced with geometric openings to explore concepts of light and space. Building on Fontana’s revolutionary manipulation of canvas, Bonalumi created his estroflessioni, stretching and deforming monochrome supports from behind to create paintings that were simultaneously sculptures.
Italy has for centuries been a place of exceptional artistic activity, discovery, and achievement. These artists pushed the very “fabric” of tradition to its limits, and ultimately discovered new worlds of materials, forms, and meanings, beyond canvas.