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Art Market#14: Christie's 20th/21st Century Milan Online Sale

Christie's latest 20th/21st Century Online Sale, held yesterday May 31 in Milan, has confirmed a strong interest in works by Italian artists Alighiero Boetti, Salvo, and Mario Schifano.

Lucio Fontana's Nature, a great classic, performed well and did not disappoint expectations.

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), Concetto spaziale, Natura, 1967

polished brass, 26.7 x 20.6 x 21.3 cm and 25.7 x 20.6 x 21.6 cm

Courtesy Christie's

Unexpectedly, instead, the top lot of the Milan session was not Mario Schifano's Yellow Monochrome No. 080 from 1960 - which failed to exceed the minimum estimate - but rather a museum quality and well-documented work by Alberto Burri from the collection of critic Enrico Crispolti: a Black Tar executed in 1951.

Estimated in pre-sale 200,000-300,000 EUR, after a fierce online competition the Black Tar was sold for 550,000 EUR + buyer's premium, for a total of 693,000 EUR.

Unsold, however, was the second Burri lot in the catalogue, a 1965 Combustion from the private collection of the writer Rosetta Loy: a sign that the art market for works by Alberto Burri is continuing to keep a very fluctuating trend.

Alberto Burri (1915-1995), Catrame nero T, 1951

coal tar and oil on canvas, 81 x 65 cm

Courtesy Christie's

But let's look in detail at some of the other results:

Giugno, a late work by Salvo, found a new buyer for 126,000 EUR, including buyer's premium, after an initial estimate of 45,000-65,000 EUR. In the production of the Turin-born artist, landscapes are, currently, the most sought-after subjects.

Le Infinite Possibilità di Esistere, a 1987 embroidery by Alighiero Boetti, fetched 113,400 EUR including buyer's premium, starting from a minimum estimate of 30,000.

A Coca-Cola enamel on canvas by Mario Schifano from 1981, valued EUR 15,000-20,000, found a new owner for EUR 60,480 including buyer's premium.

Salvo (1947-2015), Giugno, 2007

olio su tela, 50 x 70 cm

Courtesy Christie's

Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994), Le infinite possibilità di esistere, 1987

embroidery, 28.2x25 cm

Courtesy Christie's

Mario Schifano (1934-1998), Senza titolo, 1981

enamel on canvas, 100 x 95 cm

Courtesy Christie's

Before concluding, among the lots that are perhaps less in vogue at the moment but equally noteworthy in terms of history and quality, I'd like to highlight a painting by Mattia Moreni, which was sold for 30,240 EUR (pre-sale estimate EUR 25,000-35,000).


oil on canvas, 57.5 x 114 cm

Courtesy Christie's

Executed in 1964 and included in the monographic exhibition dedicated to the artist by Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Bologna in 1965, Painful Sign in the Field with the Storm is representative of a return of Moreni, after the Informal season, to a precise narrative through images and cycles (the trees, the fields, the signs, the clouds) where the landscape, interpreted in a visionary and decadent key, is lit up by a bold and livid chromatic range.

Mattia Moreni was one of the major and most original protagonists of Italian painting in the second half of the 20th Century. From the 1940s to the 1990s, he has been representative of the most innovative movements of his time, the Abstraction, the Informal and the Neo-expressionism, being featured in events of global relevance such as the Venice Biennale, the São Paulo Biennale, Documenta in Kassel, and achieving recognition from critic (Tapié, Restany, Arcangeli) and public.

Moreni's production, an acute and irreverent investigation of the human condition within contemporary society, was centered around the relationship between man and nature and man and technology. As early as the 1960s, he was aware of the infection of destruction that has entered into man's imagination, of the anguish of the things we are about to lose, and of the evidence that nothing is eternal, therefore not even art.

His works can be found in Italian and international museums including the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome, the GAM in Turin, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin and the Museo de Arte in São Paulo, Brazil.

A few years ago I was able to deal with an oil on canvas by Mattia Moreni from private ownership executed in 1985 (you can find details at the following link, and I am still sourcing paintings by the artist on behalf of private collectors.

If you own a work by Mattia Moreni, Mario Schifano, Alighiero Boetti or another 20th Century Italian artist, and you would like to have professional advice for a private sale or a consignment to auction houses, please feel free to contact me at the following e-mail address:


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