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Castellani in black and white

in Enrico Castellani, exh. cat., Haunch of Venison, New York, 2009, May 8–June 27

From Today to Yesterday

Forty-three years after his first personal exhibition in the United States at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York and twenty-two years after his second and last show at the Totah Gallery, Enrico Castellani returns to New York with an exhibition that, beginning with a group of works realized especially for this event, retraces, for the first time, the most important milestones of a story that is now in its fiftieth year.
The large central room, overlooking the Rockefeller Centre, an icon of the International Style, is taken up by entirely new surfaces; primarily white, with flashes of aluminum, they announce their linguistic heresy in the most radical manner: studded trajectories in which bas-reliefs and concavities tirelessly saturate entire surfaces are at the mercy of light that, under the conditions of maximum reflection offered by the polarity of white-aluminum, reveals, hides, confuses and disorients according to the angle of incidence and intensity; head-on it flattens projections, from the side it exalts them and reveals both the varying heights and the undulating movement of the peaks and valleys. Poetically and methodologically coherent and rigorous, variation is at its utmost and its most surprising: the patterns proceed parallel and orthogonal to one another, in other cases they converge and diverge; they flex, slope upwards, come together and separate. Temporal rhythms and not static forms, intermittent sequences and not lines, prohibit unitary and definitive visions. Yet the canvases created for this exhibition, from the white diptych to the large silver and white surfaces, present something new. While the variability of the surfaces is entrusted to the organization of the structure behind the canvas, the novelty is to be found in the introduction of the diagonal. One or more large “structuring” spines cross the canvas: to these are attached smaller strips that run parallel to the edges of the canvas and orthogonal to one another. At the point where they encounter the diagonal, the punctuation grows eccentric, it interposes itself within the structure to upset its cadenced progression; it generates sudden and uncontrollable turbines and vortexes.
An unavoidable question follows in the wake of this blinding experience. How did this happen?
A brusque change in direction takes us back to Castellani’s debut, to 1959, a year of important convergences: the steps that lead him to the invention of his original language and the “Azimuth” adventure he shares with Piero Manzoni. “It was a casual encounter, tied to the opportunities offered by life and art. Prior to 1958 I studied and worked as an architect in Brussels. I was familiar with the work of the Parisian artists and possessed enough information about the research that was taking place in Europe. After returning to Italy I became aware of a condition of closure, of the tired repetition of surrealist and informal models, an attachment to positions that were already showing their age. These dissatisfactions and the need to experiment with different approaches, to experience less expected itineraries inspired the meeting between myself and Manzoni”, Castellani recalls[1]. Two very different personalities. A tireless organizer, Manzoni is well rooted in the Milanese scene. Vital and versatile, seductive and captivating, he frequents artists, galleries and meeting points; he entertains relations with the most important Milanese and European artists, including Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein and the protagonists of Group Zero, formed in Düsseldorf in 1957. It is precisely Heinz Mack, Zero’s leading figure, who provides the most fitting description of Castellani: “an attractive gentleman, slim, always impeccably and discretely dressed, with ordered and genteel mannerisms. He almost never spoke; after all he contradicts the common idea of the Italian”[2]. Two very different backgrounds. Born in Rovigo in 1930, Castellani studies architecture at the École nationale supérieure de la Cambre founded by Henry van de Velde. The school, inspired by the Bauhaus, is attentive to the technical and social aspects of design. Analytical and methodical by nature, Castellani’s architectural studies lead him to develop a dual approach that is simultaneously rational and craft-based. On the other hand he is averse to the ostentation of emotions, expressions and moods that motivate and underlie Surrealism, Expressionism and Art Informel. For example, CoBrA, one of the most inventive and impassioned groups active in Paris and Brussels during the period Castellani spends there. The group is in contact with the Milan-based Enrico Baj and Sergio Dangelo who, precisely in Brussels, sign the “Manifesto della pittura nucleare” in 1952. Its messianic tone and promise to destroy and re-found painting evoke other proclamations: the “Manifiesto Blanco” prepared in Buenos Aires in 1946 by the pupils of Lucio Fontana, for example, reminiscent in turn of the invectives of Futurism. Curiously, in all three cases we are dealing with revolutions announced by Italian artists while outside Italy. The Gruppo Nucleare and CoBrA share an “anti-abstract” attitude. They refuse not only geometric abstraction, but abstraction itself. “For this reason we were always adverse to Michel Tapié’s Art Informel and Un art autre that, in the end, proposed nothing other than an informal abstract academism that substituted the abstract geometric academism that preceded it”[3]. They are also “anti-functionalist”, flanking the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus supported by Asger Jorn whose motto is “the house as a machine to surprise and impress”[4], in its fight against the new Bauhaus in Ulm directed since 1955 by the Concretist painter Max Bill. In the same 1952 in which, in Paris and New York, Michel Tapié and Harold Rosenberg announce and theorize l’art autre and Action Painting, the Gruppo Nucleare already speaks of moving on in their publication “Il Gesto”, printed between 1955 and 1959. Three 1957 manifestos announce the “passing of the torch” from the founders of the Nuclearist movement to its new adepts, most notably Piero Manzoni and Yves Klein. The acceleration of the “anti” position sees the “anti-abstract” bleed into the “anti-pictorial”: the canvas is no longer a container of painting, but a space of freedom. “Contro lo stile” (Against Style), the last proclamation of the year bellows: if Impressionism freed painting of the conventional subject, if Cubism, Futurism and Abstraction eliminated the imperative of representation, “the last link in this chain is about to be destroyed: we the Gruppo Nucleare denounce the last of conventions, style. We admit, as the last possible forms of stylization the “monochrome propositions” of Yves Klein, after which there is nothing other than the tabula rasa or Capogrossi’s “rotoli di tappezzeria” (rolls of wallpaper)”. The essence of the work of art, the manifesto concludes, consists of its “modifying presence in a world that no longer requires celebrative representations but presences”[5]. In 1957 Pierre Restany organizes the world preview at the Galleria Apollinaire in Milan of 11 Proposte Monochrome, Epoca Blu (Proposition Monochrome; Blue Epoch) by Yves Klein, while Piero Manzoni opts for the tabula rasa of his first Achromes and Salvatore Scarpitta presents his first wrapped canvases. These dates are important: after Lucio Fontana’s 1949 Concetti spaziali (Spatial Concepts) and Alberto Burri’s Nero (Black) and Gobbi (Hunchbacks) from the following year, these canvases represent the first genuine monochrome tests and the first shaped canvases in post-Second World War art. The third issue of “Il Gesto”, also from 1957, features a cover riddled with holes by Fontana and Capogrossi’s “rotoli di tappezzeria” on the back cover. With the fourth and last issue of the magazine, released in 1959, the history of the Gruppo Nucleare comes to a close. Though its founders, like the protagonists of CoBrA, had not managed to translate their works into the revolutions announced, slipping back into representation, their role was both decisive and propulsive: to foment and cultivate the rebellion against the asphyxial alternative torturing Italian art since before the Second World War: between abstraction and representation, between concretism and realism, more or less expressionist, more or less socialist. The total freedom of the artist, the zeroing of representation, the irruption of the work into space become, at least for the next twenty years, the point of no return.
When “Il Gesto” folds Castellani has been in Milan for three years, earning his living in the office of the architect Franco Buzzi. He paints informel works, though without conviction, with measured gestural expressiveness and limited depth of matter, a tendency to saturate surfaces, primarily with white paint. Unlike Manzoni, who looks to Paris and Düsseldorf, Castellani’s attention is drawn overseas. “The aspect of Art Informel that most interested me was Action painting, a means of understanding the concept of painting that was not so distant from abstraction, because it also contained the program of not programming a canvas, of leaving it to create itself”[6]. In particular to Mark Tobey “because I thought he had arrived at such a point of linguistic purity that he might represent a starting point, that he had eliminated any remnants of expression”[7]. While the 1958 Venice Biennale presents Castellani with an opportunity to directly study Tobey’s “white writing”, a frankly disappointing experience, the previous year at the Galleria del Naviglio he had discovered dripping, the rhythm Jackson Pollock uses to saturate his canvases, escaping any notion of composition. The 1958 Senza titolo (Untitled) on display here in New York is almost monochrome: rapid and close brush strokes saturate the surface; in some parts they resemble Oriental ideograms, akin to those initially studied by the West Coast master.
“Then, at a certain point, I became aware that my only possibility was the completely white canvas, though I lacked the courage to try. The argument became terribly different: a white canvas as one would find it in the shop […] Not even Manzoni had reached this point: when he went to extremes, he put a stitch in the middle”[8], he tells Carla Lonzi in 1969 in the pages of Autoritratto (Self Portrait), in which, for the first time, the art historian reunites artists from three generations, offering them the chance to speak for themselves and reserving the role of moderator for herself. However, Castellani finds this courage in his Senza titolo from 1959. Two thirds of the surface is occupied by a completely white canvas that, like a mounting wave, is about to submerge the rest of the painting, only slightly tinted by color, modulated by folds that capture and repel light in a rich play of chiaroscuro. These are works of crucial importance: they reveal suggestions and influences, while denouncing the will to overcome and actualize them. More than Manzoni’s Achromes, in which kaolin plastered folds ripple across the surface, these Senza titolo look to Fontana, to Concetto spaziale and Ambiente spaziale a luce nera (Spatial Environment in Black Light) from 1949, which revolutionized the way of thinking about and conceiving of art. Vital, sociable and generous, Fontana was protective of young artists, assisting them by purchasing a canvas at every show. “His presence was, it must be said, exemplary. Fontana was an innovator, we all understood this. And not only in Milan. We were fascinated by his conception of space and we understood that his reflections opened up entirely new and unexplored worlds. Not even Manzoni was immune to his gestural expressiveness. In fact, space, light and gestural expression formed a trinity that was the subject of lengthy meditation, accompanying Manzoni’s and my research” Castellani recalls[9]. After testing all languages, from the representational to the abstract, from Rationalism to Art Informel, Fontana advocates and practices overcoming the canonical dimensions “of painting, sculpture, poetry and music”, in favor of “a greater art in harmony with the needs of the new spirit […]; the break with previous forms of art in order to make way for new conceptions […]; the passage from abstraction to dynamism”[10]. He perforates and rips the canvas, destroying its function as a representational screen; he abrogates architectural space in darkness, negating its function as a container, he reduces sculptural mass to a line floating in space. Yet this is where Fontana stops: like Moses who, after liberating his people from slavery, never entered the Promised Land, thus Fontana, after liberating art from its canonical dimensions, entrusts the younger generation with whom he was speaking in the pages of Autoritratto with the exploration of new dimensions. For Castellani, perforations and cuts were still too unique, heroic and gestural, too closely related to the demiurgic figure of their author, immortalized in the image by Ugo Mulas. How to revise his lesson and translate a “spatial concept” into a poetic methodology? To respond to this question Castellani and Manzoni found “Azimuth”, releasing only two issues between 1959 and the following year. The first opens with an homage to Fontana entitled “Oltre la pittura”, (Beyond Painting) illustrated by his perforated and slashed Concetti spaziali. It is a work of reconnaissance. A multiplicity of texts and images can be traced back to substantially two lines of research: the first, documented in the works of Castellani, Manzoni, Klein and Group Zero, is supported by the Japanese critic Yoshiaki Tono who, in “Spazio vuoto e spazio pieno” (Solid Space and Void Space) speaks precisely about the significance of white: if the Western World assumes it as a component of the work, Eastern tradition sees it as “the source of all possibilities of creation, an extraordinarily fruitful uterus from which all things are born”. He concludes by calling on the “incredible fecundity of void space, pregnant with whiteness, beyond pregnant abstraction”[11]. This approach, whose authoritative precedent is to be found in John Cage, aims at the subtraction, liberation and emptying of the surface, at its activation through light. Fontana’s Concetto spaziale, Manzoni’s Achromes, the folds of Castellani’s Senza titolo and the monochrome blue of Klein can all be traced back to this source: during the generational handover, the canvas remains monochrome, though intact. On the opposite side we find the stories of neo-Dada and Pop: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Mimmo Rotella, under the paternity of Kurt Schwitters and Francis Picabia. They are inclusive, poised between the surface and space, between the second and third dimensions. The final essay, “Le tigri impagliate” (The Stuffed Tigers) by Albino Galvano, reveals the group’s ethic: an attack on the market and the prostrate attitude demonstrated by critics. Of unsettling actuality, Castellani continues to be comfortable in this position. Before we speak about the second issue of the magazine, it is worth mentioning two other works by Castellani, both from 1959. Superficie nera a rilievo (Black Surface in Relief) is a monochrome piece, devoid even of the touches of color found in his folded surfaces. It returns to the dialectic between light and shade, entrusted here to the dialogue between points in projection and others in depression, still distributed casually across the surface. However, in Superficie a rilievo (Surface in Relief) from the same year, a simple system of numeric proportions regulates the distribution of projections and depressions across the surface, generated by a double order of nails, one on the front and another on the back, equal in their force. In the example on display today and in the work published in the second issue of “Azimuth”, the rhythm marked by the points is regular, uniformly distributed and appears to extend beyond the limits of the canvas. Invention, which remains constant, is simultaneously technique and poetry: beyond the illusionism of Renaissance perspective, beyond the real and dramatic, though episodic chiaroscuro of Fontana’s slashes, Castellani invents a system that, by conserving the integrity of the canvas, translates three-dimensional representation into the three-dimensional reality of the canvas under maximum tension. From representation to presence: as announced in the manifesto “Contro lo stile” and reiterated only a short time later in “Azimuth”. And not only.
Canceling pictorial gestural expression in monochrome, preferably white, and conserving the integrity of the canvas renders Castellani’s process conceptually reversible: the two equal and contrary forces cancel one another, restoring the canvas to its original calm, “as one would find it in the shop”, something he lacked the courage to try only a few months before. At its antipodes, thanks to the infinite possibility of rhythmic trajectories, the surface is inexhaustibly variable. “10 or 100 or 1,000 and more identical canvases each different from the other. Serial production in art. A production that holds up against time and repetition. A combinational approach that varies even when the canvases are the same and, on the contrary, need not vary even when the canvases appear unequal. It is not a question of light or shadow but of time”: these are the inspired words of Vincenzo Agnetti, one of Castellani’s most astute companions[12].
For Castellani, the second issue of “Azimuth”, entitled La nuova concezione artistica (The New Artistic Conception) is the only important one[13]. Overcome by the trend of subtraction, inclusion is cast aside. If in the first issue the critics speak more than the artists – only Schwitters, Picabia and Agnetti – in the second issue the critics are the minority – only Udo Kultermann, director of the Leverkusen Museum – while “the new artistic conception” is dictated by Castellani, Manzoni and Otto Piene in texts in Italian, English, French and German. Additional figures appear, instead, in the homonymous exhibition at the Azimut gallery: Klein, Kilian Breier, Oskar Holweck, Heinz Mack and Almir Mavignier. The issue opens with the lengthy essay entitled “Continuità e nuovo” (Continuity and Newness) in which Castellani declares his paternity and poetic references. The title is emblematic of his attitude towards the past and history. “History, including that of art, is part of our present; it is its substrate and its cause: we are history”[14]. Or: “One of the reasons for the birth of “Azimuth” and my collaboration with Manzoni was precisely, beyond issues related to the contingent reality of Milan in the 1950s, this total acceptance of the history of art as a whole, not to be cancelled but to be consolidated as a foundation for new more comprehensive and totalizing experiences”[15].
The first to be mentioned is Piet Mondrian, a stable reference since Castellani’s architectural apprenticeship. Having negated the validity of the concept of artistic fiction, the neo-plastic master “arrived at the total liberation of art from any past debt; of being decorative, evocative or representational”. If Mondrian’s “dialectic dynamic” leads “to the possibility of a form of art reduced to the semantic nature of its language …the only possible form of art”, the post-neoplasticist epigones limit themselves to “aestheticizing mathematical formulas”. It is thus up to Dadaism to react to any formal academism and legitimize “the gesture of intellectual revolt”. Dadaism gives way to Surrealism that, while re-proposing a traditional plastic space on the pictorial plane with a Renaissance stamp, affirms “the validity of psychic automatism” and, contrary to the sterile dogmatisms of the neo-plastic movement, “the positive acceptance of a human condition impossible to define beforehand”. However, even Surrealism, in its imitated version, indulges in a “sort of macabre taste for all the pathologically and materially decrepit elements to be found in human nature”. It is thus up to Pollock to emancipate automatism from the “fetters of metaphysical lucubration”, to affirm the “ultima ratio of the automatic physical gesture” and, closing the door on a return “to an art of representation or interpretation of subjective phenomena, achieve the ideal of concrete painting”. Thus Pollock’s “gestural concretism”, a contradiction in terms, is the synthesis of Mondrian and Dadaism through Surrealism. His is the merit of having liberated abstraction from geometry and gestural expression from representation. What is more, and here the discussion becomes autobiographical, in “Pollock the work is no longer the space of investigation, but the very object of its vexation”[16]. If these are the poetic references, how was this lesson to be updated in light of Fontana’s revolution “beyond painting”?
While Mondrian established the inviolability of the two-dimensional surface through a dialogue between lines and planes, updating his message means further liberating the surface from compositional and chromatic restrictions. By stepping back from the line to the point, from geometry to arithmetic, from rational to rhythmic order, Castellani virtualizes the traces of Mondrian and entrusts them to light, transgressing any form of symmetry. “The only possible criteria of composition is that which, through the possession of an elementary component, a line, infinitely repeatable rhythm, monochrome surface, is necessary to give the works themselves infinite concreteness and can endure the conjugation of time, the only conceivable dimension”[17]: from space to time, this is the renewal brought by Castellani. Yet how was he to vivify the teachings of Pollock? By assuming the all-over principle along the surface, Castellani meanwhile substitutes painting with construction. Both work their canvases horizontally yet, while Pollock proceedes centrifugally, establishing the size of the painting only at the end of the process, Castellani decides beforehand on the dimensions and system that guide his process. “I always begin at the perimeter where I construct arithmetic subdivisions that represent the starting point […], what takes place inside the surface is casual […], a causality controlled by that which I have laid out along the perimeter […], causality is generated by arithmetic progression”[18], he explains and we can add, by light. Mathematics and chance, a contradiction in terms, like gestural expression and concretism. Pollock claims an analogous control, though it is often unacknowledged by those who stubbornly wish to see him as the master of the heroic, uncontrolled and desperate gesture: “When I paint, I have an idea of the whole that I wish to achieve. I can control the drip of the paint; there is no causality, as there is no beginning or end. I don’t take advantage of chance because I refute chance”[19].
Other solutions? The studded structure is common to the artists of Group Zero: Oskar Holweck organizes small holes in an irregular grid, Günther Uecker riddles his surfaces with nails, Kilian Breier treats photo-sensitive paper with patterns of points, Piene perforates paper or canvas with burn holes while Almir Mavignier constructed shifting patterns of painted dots. Analogous studded structures can also be found outside the pages of “Azimuth”, though within the same context: Dadamaino, after the enormous and irreversible cut-outs of her Volumi (Volumes), in 1960 realizes Volumi a moduli sfasati (Volumes with Shifting Modules) in which small perforations made with a mechanical punch are regularly distributed across a plastic surface. Or Paolo Scheggi whose Intersuperfici (Intersurfaces) investigate the true depth of the canvas by cutting through it on three levels: the first, towards the spectator, the second on the layer behind, though offset with respect to the first, and the final layer, which remains whole, functioning as a backdrop.
What of Manzoni and Klein? A blue page for the French artist, in conformity with that published in the previous issue, while Manzoni’s Achrome is a canvas of stitched squares, no longer plastered over with kaolin, accompanied by a text entitled “Libera dimensione” (Free Dimension). Unlike Castellani, here there is no reference to the past. In analogous terms we find the violent and repetitive attack against composition that limits the possibilities of the surface, “unique, limitless and absolutely dynamic. Infinity is rigorously monochrome, or, better still, it has no color … a completely white [surface] (integrally colorless and neutral) far beyond any pictorial phenomenon or any intervention extraneous to the value of the surface”. However, as he prepares the text and continues to invent Achromes, Manzoni has already moved beyond the surface and into space in Linee (Lines) and Corpi d’aria (Bodies of Air). “The line develops only in length: it runs to infinity: its only dimension is time”[20], he declared, in harmony with Castellani.
If in Piene’s text, entitled “Darkness and Light”, the drama of the post-war period remains gloomily incumbent and the call for light almost an urgent need for removal, Kultermann speaks of a “new conception of painting” in regards to the Azimuth group, adding Piero Dorazio, Mark Rothko, Clifford Still and Jean Tinguely. The dynamism present in the best informel works of Wols and Pollock is now achieved using more objective methods. “The objective and real structure replaces the vague trace of personalized forms of expression … The artist’s primary objective is the mobility of the canvas that helps create a space that can be penetrated by the observer. This has nothing to do with ‘spatial depth’ but with ‘spatial activity’”[21].
Later that year Kultermann invites Castellani, Manzoni, Dorazio, Fontana, Francesco Lo Savio, Scarpitta, Klein and the Group Zero to Leverkusen for the Monochrome Malerei exhibition, the first show dedicated to monochrome painting to be held in a museum. Forty living artists, all more or less in their thirties, without masters or precursors. The definition of monochrome is broad, inclusive and almost exclusively European. With the exception of Rothko and Yayoi Kusama, in fact, the Americans are absent. Yet at this time Robert Ryman, the same age as Castellani, is already working on his Untitled series in which the agitated spreading of white paint covers and unifies the polychrome layers below. The Superficie displayed by Castellani, rigorously uniform and white, are devoid of any pictorial indulgence; the catalogue features a reprint of “Continuità e nuovo”.
Though Monochrome Malerei serves to “open the flood gates”, in his 1958 text “Totalità nell’arte d’oggi”, (Totality in Art Today) printed in the third issue of “Zero”, published by the homonymous group, Castellani has already denounced the risk of academism: “To speak of monochrome art means, in fact, giving a great deal of importance to the eternal aspect of a movement that is in no way aestheticizing, forgetting its chronologically unrepeatable historical significance, and leads to the error of validating almost any surface painted with a uniform color, or a bas-relief or graffiti on plaster, even when at the origin of these manifestations we find nothing other than the broadening of the stain to the edges of the canvas or a poorly dissimulated impressionistic naturalism or even a rhetorical ecclesiastical existentialism; this error has already been made, and there now exists an academic approach to monochrome art and, as it was some time ago when everyone claimed to have painted stains back in 1925, there are now many who claim to have painted all-white or red or blue canvases in 1940. The truth is that monochrome art represents the last chance for painting to differentiate itself from the other arts; the surface that, case-by-case, it has described, alluded to or suggested, that was the theatre of idylls and dramas and ravings, is now mute. A monochrome curtain has dropped on the final act of painting and it would be vane to indulge ourselves in mystic contemplation”[22].
Between 1961 and 1963, the year of Manzoni’s death, the partnership between the two founders of “Azimuth” is intensified and nourished by numerous exhibitions in Milan, Rome, Lissone, Düsseldorf, Zagreb, Brussels and Rotterdam. Their basic understanding remains intact, but not their method of expressing it, as Castellani reminds us: “I have always been tied to the surface and the object, to their analysis and definition, while Manzoni was concerned with gestures and behavior. What united us instead (and this is a fundamentally theoretical trait) was the common idea of conceiving of and practicing art: the idea that art was perhaps a continuous reflection on art, on its instruments and methods. An endless investigation of its very concept”[23]. Following the death of his friend, a driving and sociable force, Castellani’s stubborn and solitary ways continue to confirm and enrich his original invention.


Between 1961 and 1967 Castellani experiences an anomalous season of so-called “shaped canvases”: “baldacchini”, “angolari”, diptychs and triptychs; a colorful, joyful and captivating period, documented in this exhibition also by a few pieces realized in New York in 1966 for the personal show at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Works that, as a result of their diversity from the Superfici realized to this point, lend themselves to misunderstandings and ambiguities. These latter are fomented by one of the leading Italian art critics and historians, Gillo Dorfles who, already in 1964, considers them as “object-like elements, true and proper aesthetic and autonomous objects that, especially in the final shaped versions, the “baldacchini”, or the double-mirrored forms, acquire a structural energy that sets them apart from the standard painted surfaces of so much modern-day art, giving them the vigor and flavor of elements akin to furnishings, internal or external architecture”[24]. Dorfles has even more to say later the same year: “That which so many paintings from our period accept, notwithstanding that it degrades them to elements of environmental decoration, Castellani’s objects focus on carrying out with full awareness, escaping any ambiguous pretext of “a posteriori fetishism”, though preferring an a priori demythologization and demystification”[25]. The ambiguity lies in considering these works as “objects” rather than Superfici, as Castellani, however, continues to title them, as exceptions rather than further investigations. Fed by Castellani’s architectural education and time spent in Milan, the capital of industrial design during the economic boom and the period of industrial and technological optimism, this ambiguity continues to exist. While it must be remembered that we are not speaking of objects but of further investigations into the nature and potential of the surface, it is also true that there exists, conceptually and visibly, a profound difference between these shaped surfaces and their two-dimensional counterparts. Given their curious appearance and bright colors, they in fact capture attention for their formal aspects rather than for the temporal rhythm defined by their studded structure. Not only the forms of the canvases tend to enclose and circumscribe a space that Carla Lonzi successfully defines the “ideal space of contemplation”[26], but also the rhythm of the studs is either absent or it coagulates at the centre or decays in perspective towards a vanishing point beyond the surfaces. This last hypothesis warrants further discussion. Castellani is so fully convinced that studded and virtual patterns entrusted to light are a brilliant and definitive alternative to composition and illusionism that, as they dissolve the geometric grid when orthogonal, when placed in perspective they render impracticable even the canon invented to allow three-dimensional representation on a two-dimensional canvas. The double system of nails, what is more, spasmodically stretches the canvas, bringing it into the third dimension without making recourse to any illusionistic artifice. We are reminded of the work of Giulio Paolini, who does not conceal his debt to Castellani from 1960 onwards when, in his Disegno geometrico (Geometric Drawing) he uses a pencil to trace the orthogonal and diagonal coordinates necessary for any composition on a canvas and then declares himself unable to proceed any further. Later, in the perspectival construction of Nove quadri datati dal 1967 al 1971 visti in prospettiva (Nine Squares Dated 1967 to 1971 Seen in Perspective) Paolini returns to perspective not as a means of representation, but rather to distance the plane of representation.
There is, however, an exception in the world of “anomalous” surfaces, constituted by the “angolari”, whose behavior towards space is antithetical to the closure and “contemplation” proposed in the diptychs and the “baldacchini”. Hung in the corners of a room, in white or preferably red and black, on their own or paired with a surface, they denounce an interruption of interior space and simultaneously translate it into continuity. This multiplication of the angular solution gives birth to Ambiente bianco (White Environment) created for the crucial exhibition Lo spazio dell’immagine (The Space of the Image) held in 1967 in Foligno, the first show to investigate the environmental research taking place “beyond the canvas”. Entirely white, wrapped in surfaces furrowed by contradictory and deceptive trajectories and connected by white “angolari”, Ambiente bianco is a dematerialized space, devoid of any physical coordinates or points of reference, distressing and vertiginous. When Castellani states: “The canvas pulled at the corners in my space was a reference to the old ‘angolari’”[27], he is aware that Ambiente bianco is the result of the research initiated in 1961 into the “encroachment” of the surface into space. The result, however, convinces Castellani that architecture is not the right approach for him; in fact, he is not interested in the creation of new spaces, but in the “erasure of the physical dimension” of existing spaces: acting in and on existing space to dematerialize it, render it as un-physical as possible. If this obsession against matter is undoubtedly inherited from Fontana and unites Castellani, Manzoni, Klein and the protagonists of the Group Zero, the solutions are diversified in terms of their radicalism. While Castellani refuses the heroic gesture that irreversibly lacerates the canvas, he also refuses the disappearance of architectural space in darkness proposed by Fontana in Ambiente nero (Black Environment), a work displayed during the same 1967 exhibition. In fact, Ambiente bianco does not implode, but dilates, destabilizes and dematerializes space with its studded surfaces entrusted to light. Moreover, Castellani tells us: “I believe that it is illegitimate and pretentious to wish to deform space in a definitive and irresponsible manner, what is more with the presumption of wishing to have an effect on reality: in the best of hypotheses it is a useless operation. At most it is admissible to structure it in a manner that renders it perceptible and useful to the senses; in the end space interests us and we worry about it because we exist in it”[28].
“The first canvases were without color, they were simply cut canvases […] Later I added color, precisely to decorate them, to see if I could move forward, instead I took a step backwards, you understand […], believing that with stones light would pass, that this would create more of an effect of movement. Instead, I understood that I needed to remain with my pure simplicity, because it is pure philosophy, you can also call it spatial philosophy, you can call it cosmic”[29], Fontana confesses to Carla Lonzi. In analogous terms it is our belief that the white and aluminum surfaces, extreme in their ability to capture and restore light, constitute Castellani’s truly original invention. As announced in “Azimuth”, Castellani’s goal lies “beyond the painting” and not “beyond the canvas”. The insistence on the surface and not on the object and space, monochromatic and devoid of pictorial gratification, the invention of a poetic meter that gives the surface a real, physical depth, beyond representative illusionism, are prerogatives that must be reiterated, above all in the American context. Where, as we will see, the fracture between surface and space, between painting and object, is radical and irremediable.

In America

When Castellani spends three months in New York for the exhibition at the Betty Parsons, minimalism is at its apex. His show opens on April 26, 1966, the day before the Jewish Museum’s Primary Structures exhibition consecrates this movement at the institutional level. The Betty Parsons Gallery, opened in 1946 on 57th Street, is a pilot gallery: when Peggy Guggenheim decides to return to Europe, Parsons is one of her fortunate heirs: primarily of the abstract expressionists, above all the non-gestural component, from Rothko to Barnett Newman, whose first exhibit she hosts, to Ad Reinhardt, who shows regularly since 1946. However, the 1958 exhibition of Agnes Martin’s first slender grids already reveals an attention towards abstract post-expressionist painting, in a minimalist and spiritual key. As Eugene C. Goossen writes in occasion of the exhibition of Parson’s collection at the Finch College Museum of Art in 1968, where Castellani shows his Angolare rosso (Red Corner Piece), Parson’s approach is never “calculated or programmatic. The works were acquired when the names of the artists meant little and the works themselves were far from being in the clear”[30]. Perhaps because she herself is an artist, she is guided in her choices and acquisitions exclusively by an empathy with the work and its artifice. With Castellani it is love at first sight: at least for Beatrice Monti, the director of the Galleria L’Ariete in Milan, where Castellani regularly shows from 1963 onwards.
The New York show certainly does not pass unnoticed. Castellani, in fact, is already well known in the United States: L’Ariete actively collaborates with Betty Parsons and Leo Castelli to promote Italian artists in New York, above all Fontana and Castellani, hosting, on the other hand, American artists in Milan, from the abstract and post-painterly expressionists Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis in 1960 to Rauschenberg in 1961, Jim Dine the following year and Jack Youngerman in 1963, in whose house Castellani would later live during his time in New York. Castellani’s first apparition in the United States dates back to 1960 and the exhibition entitled Contemporary Italian Art held at the Illinois Institute of Design in Chicago: a panorama of post-Second World War Italian art, from founders like Burri and Fontana to the informel artists Emilio Vedova and Toti Scialoja, to the abstract artists Carla Accardi, Dorazio, Capogrossi, Giulio Turcato, Ettore Colla and Antonio Sanfilippo, to Castellani’s friends, the Roman “pop” artists Franco Angeli, Tano Festa, Rotella and Giosetta Fioroni and Milanese companions Manzoni and Gianni Colombo, founder of the Gruppo T, created the year before. There are two salient appointments in 1964: the Guggenheim International Award at the Guggenheim Museum and On the Move, at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York. The curator of the first is Lawrence Alloway, the father of Systemic Painting, a movement he consecrates the same year and in the same museum. For the Guggenheim International Award, 82 painters from 24 nations exhibit works from the last three years chosen for their diversity, from representational to pop to abstract. The abstract artists are further distinguished as gestural, “field” and monochrome painters. Fontana and Castellani, Tomayasu Murakami and Arnulf Rainer are assigned to the latter section. In Alloway’s words, if for Fontana “monochrome painting touches, in his shaped canvases, on the creation of picture-objects”, the “regularity of structure” found in Castellani’s work “approaches aspects of geometric art”[31], understood in the broadest, most inclusive, though not necessarily Euclidean sense. The anthology of writings at the end of the catalogue includes Castellani’s “Totalità nell’arte di oggi”.
On the Move, curated by Douglas MacAgy presents, instead, as indicated by the title, examples of research that “explore and debunk the subjective role in acts of perception”, imagining an “interplay of cued environment and moving people”[32] that physically and mentally involves the spectator and his environment. The genealogy takes its cues from Cubism, Futurism and the Bauhaus, arriving at the constellation of optical art, from Yaacov Agam and Alexander Calder to Equipo 57 and Julio Le Parc, from George Rickey to Tinguely and Uecker. With two Superfici on display, Castellani is the only Italian invited.
Analogous to the latter, though with a greater audience, the MoMA’s 1965 The Responsive Eye exhibition defines the current state of optical research at the international scale. 123 artists from 15 countries, selected by the curator William Seitz, are organized into six sections: The Color Image, Invisible Painting, Optical Paintings, Black and White, Moiré Pattern, Reliefs and Constructions. Who is the perceptual artist in 1965 with respect to his impressionist ancestor? Seitz asks. “A modernist painter endowed with an uncommon sensibility of the eye”[33]. What unites the artists selected by Seitz? Abstraction, primarily, from flat forms and from sharp edges, from an unlimited chromatic range, from an anti-compositional attitude that privileges symmetry, centrality or uniform distribution and, above all, the perceptive activation of the spectator without making recourse to extra-pictorial mechanisms. Though Piero Dorazio is assigned to The Color Image section, dominated by the Post-Painterly Abstraction baptized by Clement Greenberg the previous year in Los Angeles, of the other Italians invited the catalogue mentions only the Gruppo N (Alberto Biasi, Toni Costa, Edoardo Landi and Manfredo Massironi) formed in Padua in 1960, ignoring Alviani, Castellani or Enzo Mari, presumably present in the same section Reliefs and Constructions. With a certain haughtiness Seitz comments on the collective, impersonal and anonymous aspect of the work of Gruppo N, its acceptance of industrial methods and materials, mass production and distribution, refusing to recognize the anti-institutional political value that distinguished and qualified the debut of this Padua-based group. To these aspects, typically European and with a Bauhaus matrix, Seitz counters “a new ‘cool’ abstract dada, related to pop art, which finds value in resignation, emptiness and meaninglessness”. In conclusion: “It is an American counterpart of the less febrile European rejection of romantic idealism and acceptance of a world of automation and computers”. As if to say that, in the common aspiration to react to informal romanticism, the European response is fragile, mechanical, and “anti-artistic”. Thus the original qualities of Italian research into the activation of the surface using extra-pictorial elements is drowned in the optical melting pot that brings together all that is exiled by the polarization minimal–new dada and pop, in particular “optically illusionistic” post-painterly abstraction, the last resort of the formalist critical structure erected by Clement Greenberg. It is no wonder that Massironi defines the New York celebration as a “lavish mourning ceremony, a first class funeral”[34]. The Responsive Eye confirms that the institutional consecration of an artist or a movement generally takes place when its driving force has all but extinguished itself. This is the case with Abstract Expressionism, whose traveling exhibition The New American Painting, which stops at the Galleria Civica in Milan, is presented in 1958, when Stella’s striped surfaces, Rauschenberg’s combine-paintings and Johns’ Targets already ask us to move forward. This is also the case with kinetic research, already in its involutional phase in 1963, in occasion of the second Nova Tendencija exhibition in Zagreb.
As far as Castellani is concerned, if his work effectively pursues the dynamism and instability of the surface, two elements set him apart from the other participants at the New York event. The absence of a pictorial problem, first and foremost. We cannot repeat often enough that, in the world of absolute monochrome, preferably white, the adoption of a temporal, virtual and reversible rhythm that changes with light, excludes form, composition and illusionism. Secondly, how is it possible to confuse Castellani with those who use mass technology and mass production when his constructional process is so lengthy, laborious and proudly craft-based? What is more, he reasons that: “Gestalt Theories during the creative process cannot create anything other than aestheticizing monstrosities, removed from any notion of time”[35]. As if this was not enough, he responds, without mincing words, to Topazia Alliata with regards to Gruppo N: “I believe, notwithstanding their declarations to the contrary that, within the current panorama of art, they place themselves on a level of direct, even if only apparent, antithesis to trends that range from New Dada to Pop Art to Nouveau Réalisme. I have always believed in the necessity of a process for the demystification of art; in this light I have interpreted the informel and in this sense I feel I am part of a logical evolution; I consider aberrations of an involutional nature those trends, from Rauschenberg to Nouveau Réalisme, characterized by an attempt to introduce spurious ideologies within the field of aesthetic research as well as those that reduce this research to the lazy proposition of self-referential physical phenomena on a case-by-case basis and external experiences to the present dialectic of the evolution of the language of art”[36]. Even the Group Zero, a sure reference at the time of his debut for the “cleanliness of [their] research, transparency of method, refusal of individualism, disinterest and abandonment of literary instances” pursue, for Castellani, an ideology that was not acceptable, and “a too-direct relationship with technology: undoubtedly an inheritance of the Bauhaus”[37].
However, Castellani is requested on another front. Unique among the Italians, he is named by the father of minimalism Donald Judd in his seminal 1965 text “Specific Objects”. This is because Scarpitta, a resident in New York since 1959, is included among the American forerunners. “Some European paintings can be acquainted with objects, those of Klein for example, and those of Castellani, which present undifferentiated fields of elements in bas-relief”[38]. The reading is both precise and timely. Two years older than Castellani and after an abstract-expressionistic debut, between 1961 and the following two years Judd takes the decisive step from the surface into space. His first move is to thicken the surface using wax, sand and objects, followed by a curving of the base and the summit before he arrives, in 1963, at three-dimensional volumes firmly anchored to the ground. He theorizes: “With the exception of a field of total, unvaried color, anything that finds space in a rectangle or on a plane suggests something in or on something else…The three dimensions are real space. This resolves the problem of illusionism and literal space, of space within and around signs and colors – the solution of the primary and most discussed remnants of European art”. As for Castellani’s “paintings”, Judd correctly underlines their quality of indifference, thus anti-compositional and anti-relational and, speaking about bas-reliefs with regards to studded surfaces, implicitly admits that we are dealing with real, literal three-dimensionality. He could have added that the projections and depressions follow one another across the surface “in a simple order, one after the other”, according to the same arithmetic principles and laws of proportion that regulate the layout of “specific objects” in space. There is more. The phrase “some European paintings can be acquainted with objects” confirms that: “The new work obviously resembles sculpture more than painting, though it is closer to the world of painting…In the canvases of Pollock, Rothko, Still and Newman and more recently in those of Reinhardt and Noland, the rectangle is emphasized. The internal elements are vast and simple and correspond strictly with the rectangle. The parts are few and so entirely subordinated to the whole that they are no longer parts in the common sense of the term. The canvas is almost a unity, a totality and not the sum of a group of entities”[39]. If the “painters of the idea of an idea” and the post-painterly artists nominated by Judd truly renounce gestural expression in favor of a surface of color that tends towards totality, Judd’s thoughts turn to Frank Stella, to the striped paintings he presented in 1958 in which the symbiosis between painting and support is such that it configures them more as objects than as common paintings. In fact, “Stella’s shaped paintings involve several important characteristics of three-dimensional work. The periphery of a piece and the lines inside correspond. The stripes are nowhere near being discrete parts. The surface is farther from the wall than usual, though it remains parallel to it. Since the surface is exceptionally unified and involves little or no space, the parallel plane is unusually distinct. The order is not rationalistic and underlying but is simply order, like that of continuity, one thing after another”[40]. Those canvases, which the critic Michael Fried calls the last that a “literalist” like Judd could accept without reservation[41], are, however, in great demand: by Greenberg who places them in the post-painterly category, by Seitz who includes them in The Responsive Eye and by Judd who indicates them as the forerunners of “specific objects”. In all three cases though, symmetry and repetition, rooted in the undifferentiated chessboard structure of the American metropolis, emerge as the American alternative to European representational painting, of which Mondrian is the emblem.
We know that Castellani’s first Superfici a rilievo (Surfaces in Relief) are contemporary to Stella’s striped paintings. However, there is no trace of Stella in “Azimuth”, nor are we given to know if, when and how the two artists eventually met. Not before 1964, probably, when both participate in the Venice Biennale for the first time. The comparison between the two solutions is not, in any case, so bizarre, given the assumption by both of a rectilinear matrix. Though the common goal may be that of defeating pictorial composition, the solutions are antithetical: Stella entrusts himself to the identical repetition of the same painted module while Castellani uses a system that combines conceptual and methodological coherence with the variability of virtual traces entrusted to light.
Thus when he arrives in New York for the show at the Betty Parsons, Castellani is alternatively recognized as an abstract painter, a monochrome painter, an optical painter and a pre-minimalist.
The invitation to the exhibition is refined and elegant: white, with seven rows of raised dots and an equal number of depressions impressed into the paper, followed by the artist’s name in red. Inside, the list of the works, a total of nine, all completed in New York. There are white Superfici across which the studs are regularly distributed, others in which the trajectories become denser near the edges of the canvas, creating an effect of roundness. Others still adopt perspective, in its aforementioned connotation: the trajectories either converge beyond the limits of the canvas or on the floor of a space roughly identified as a raised volume on the canvas. In the white Dittico (Dyptic) instead, the element in perspective is the sidewall of the same roughly identified space. We wish to recall only two other shaped works, created for Parsons and displayed here today. Dittico angolare (Angular Diptych) belongs to the same family of the aforementioned “angolari”. While Trittico (Triptych) presents three aluminum trapezoidal surfaces assembled to create a single, large trapezoid. The direction of the trajectories “literally” follows the form of the support or, as Fried would say, it is “deduced” from it. If we look closer, however, the raised elements saturate the three surfaces with regularity, as if they were rectangular. Thus, notwithstanding their shaped appearance, they belong to the family of Superfici.
How did the press and critics receive the show? With indifference, Beatrice Monti unhesitatingly tells us. The reviews, in reality, speak of sincere suggestion in the presence of these surfaces, simultaneously revealing, however, the difficulty in contextualizing them. While “Art News” speaks of “effetti visivi estremamente dinamicihighly mobile visual effects: ribs of sand shifting and shifting, an amphitheater seen from the sky, a highway zoomed down”[42], the analysis made by “Arts Magazine” is much more elaborate. Beginning with the affirmation that “although antiseptic in their projecting monomorphic forms and pure monochromatic colors, the canvases are quite sexy, clean sexy, needless to say”, the reviewer observes that precisely the reduction to a minimum of the formal and structural elements stimulates evocations and attributions of symbolic meanings. The review concludes: “Normally, we would simply not look at a minimal structure long enough to extract anything from it. By assigning it an emblematic function we can stay with it sufficiently to become involved in the extremely subtle development of formal relationships. Inverting McLuhan’s aphorism, these works seem very much to indicate that ‘message is the medium’”[43].
While it is necessary to wait twenty years for his second personal show of works realized for the occasion at the Totah Gallery in New York, Castellani participates in the meantime in a number of important group shows. At least two in 1968. Young Italians held at the Jewish Museum in New York and curated by Alan Solomon is a panoramic look at post-World War II Italian art, drastically divided into two distinct groups: the ‘over-40’ generation, from Fontana to Burri to Andrea Cascella to Pietro Consagra and Arnoldo Pomodoro, strongly rooted in the European tradition, and the ‘under-40’ group, influenced by Pop and new American geometric art. Piero Dorazio was the bridge: by age a member of the first generation, he is an assiduous visitor to the United States where he teaches at Pennsylvania University. The selected artists are primarily abstract painters devoid of any painterly preoccupations; with the exception of Valerio Adami, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Ceroli and Laura Grisi, representational yes, though more pop than realists. Castellani, together with Alviani, Agostino Bonalumi and Lo Savio, is assigned to the strain that “combines the direct influence of the European constructivist-purist tradition, modern technology, the influence of Lucio Fontana and the influence of the new British and American sculpture”[44].
Castellani, the oldest and most well known artist of the assembly was, in the words of Solomon, “the most authoritative expression of a Milanese strain which originates in the slashed and perforated monochrome canvases of Fontana”. After describing the constructional method and the “coolly voluptuous” results of the studded canvases he concludes that: “[t]hey represent the quintessential Italian sensibility, they compel us while keeping their distance”[45]. Prior to entering into the merits of each single artist, however, Solomon speaks with great honesty and intelligence about the American attitude towards non-American art, in particular Italian that, in his opinion, merits more attention given that “Italy could be the place where the next significant developments in contemporary art occur”[46]. “Judging world art against American standards and American conditions”[47]: this is the first limit denounced by Solomon. If the “standard” is essentially Abstract Expressionist painting, “blunt, forceful, large, simple in form, intense, based on direct intuitive perception instead of on an intellectual process or formal theories, without very much content, without ideological complications”, the “conditions” are those of an “affluent culture, with a high Gross Art Product”[48] or, more precisely, a vast network of museums, a vast number of visitors, an elevated number of collectors, economic possibilities offered to artists to live and work in comfort and without worry. Furthermore, if the separation between art and life means that Italians “regard art as a function of the mind rather than of the feelings…[t]heir art tends to be cool, rational and deliberate, more subtle than direct, more restrained than affective”, according to a (pre)judgment expressed earlier by Seitz, a “sense of modernity” also divides the two cultures. While the weight of the past means that an attachment to modernity for Italians “has more to do with life than with art”, “Americans never think beyond the preceding generation”[49]. This chauvinist and isolationist attitude, concludes Solomon, means that “very few foreign artists who are not long established can expect to be shown in the New York galleries”[50]. Some forty years later his words remain shockingly applicable.
The same year, 1968, Douglas MacAgy curates Plus By Minus: Today’s Half-Century at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. The show uses the work of 92 artists from all generations and countries to illustrate the development of abstract art from the beginning of the 20th century to 1968. While the European front ranges from Suprematism to Constructivism to De Stijl, from the Bauhaus to the concrete art of the Group Zero to the Nuove Tendenze, its American counterpart begins with the Armory Show and the Société Anonyme, moving towards post-painterly abstraction, Minimalism and Op Art. There are numerous exclusions: Reportage, Assemblage, Expressionism and the “tender-minded attitudes”[51] manifested in Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. Individuals prevail over groups, cross-references over cross-influences and ideas over styles. There are only three Italians: Giacomo Balla, Castellani with Superficie circolare bianca (White Circular Surface), a shaped canvas with protrusions arranged in circles and concentric forms, and Piero Dorazio.
Finally, Castellani’s presence in Constructivist Tendencies, the 1970 itinerant exhibition from the collection of the artist George Rickey, confirms that his work remains trapped between Constructivism and Op Art, between the moment of construction and that of reception. Undervaluing its conceptual and spiritual importance.
Even if, in recent years, the chauvinist and sectarian approach to Italian art denounced by Solomon has softened somewhat, Italian art continues often to be read through a filter of “American standards” and “American conditions”. We need only mention that the 2008 Special Issue of “October” dedicated to “Postwar Italian Art”, while re-dimensioning the heresy of Fontana, tracing it back to gestural expression, even if of an “indexical” character, makes no mention of either Castellani or Azimuth, underlining instead the readymade character of Klein’s monochromes and Manzoni’s Achromes[52]. On the other hand if, as Solomon denounces, “Americans are prone to see the world in terms of black and white” while Italians “think and feel through a wide range of alternatives which never seem to become fixed; the problem is to reconcile alternatives, not to assign them fixed meanings”[53], what position could be assigned to an artist who spoke of continuity and newness; who referred to Mondrian and Pollock; who linked Neoplasticism, Dadaism and Surrealism; rationality and rituality; design and chance; surface and depth; who refused painting without straying into the world of the object; who charged light to disturb the order established by numbers and progression?
Words, however, are superfluous. We need only move towards the exhibition’s exit, re-crossing the white room: the same canvases now appear, literally, under another light. In comparison, the regular and symmetrical monoliths of the Rockfeller Center confirm their vocation as the paradigm of modern architecture seen through the filter of the “American standards” and “American conditions”!

[1] E. Castellani, interview with A. Trimarco, in Flash Art, n. 135, November 1986, pg. 23.
[2] H. Mack, Il caleidoscopio dei miei ricordi, R. Damsch-Wiehager (hrsg), Azimut/Azimuth 1959/60 in Mailand. Und heute, catalogue, Galerie der Stadt, Villa Menkel, Esslingen, December 1995 – February 1996, Ostfildern, Cantz 1995, pg. 181.
[3] E. Baj in a letter from August 1960, mentioned in T. Sauvage, Arte Nucleare, Galleria Schwarz, pg. 19.
[4] Letter by A. Jorn to E. Baj, Villars, November 1953, mentioned in M. Bandini, L’estetico il politico. Da Cobra all’Internazionale Situazionista 1948-1957, Officina, Rome 1977, pg. 73.
[5] Manifesto Contro lo stile, Milan, September 1957, in G. Kaisserlian, E. Jaguer (ed.), Arte Nucleare, exhibition catalogue, Galleria San Fedele, Milan, October 1957, Milan 1957. Published in T. Sauvage, Pittura italiana del dopoguerra, cit., pp. 298-299, and in T. Sauvage, Arte nucleare, cit., pg. 209.
[6] E. Castellani quoted in A. Zevi, text for the exhibition catalogue Enrico Castellani e François Morellet, Paolo Giuli centro culturale d’arte, Malgrate di Lecco, November 1989 – January 1990, s. p.
[7] E. Castellani in C. Lonzi, Autoritratto, De Donato, Bari, 1969, reprinted in A. Zevi (ed.), Castellani, exhibition catalogue, Loggetta Lombardesca, Ravenna, June-September 1984, Essegi, Ravenna 1984, pg. 67.
[8] Ibid.
[9] E. Castellani, interview with A. Trimarco cit., pg. 23.
[10] Manifiesto Blanco, 1946, published in E. Crispolti, Fontana. Catalogo generale, Electa, Milan 1986, vol. I, pg. 34-35.
[11] Y. Tono, Spazio vuoto e spazio pieno, in «Azimuth», n. 1, 1959, s. p.
[12] V. Agnetti, Enrico Castellani pittore, Achille Mauri Editore, Milan 1968, reprinted in A. Bonito Oliva, A. C. Quintavalle (ed.), Castellani, exhibition catalogue, Sala della Scuderia alla Pilotta, Parma, 1976, Università di Parma, Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione, Dipartimento d’Arte Contemporanea, Parma 1976, pg. 42.
[13] E. Castellani, interview with L. Vincenti, in «Amica», n. 15, 1983, published in Enrico Castellani, exhibition catalogue, Galleria Netta Vespignani, Rome, February-March, Edizioni Netta Vespignani, Rome, pg. 70.
[14] E. Castellani, Continuità e nuovo, [published in English under the title Continuity and Newness] in «Azimuth», n. 2, 1960, s. p.
[15] E. Castellani in A. Zevi, Due domande a Enrico Castellani, Celleno, May 1984, in Id. (ed.), Castellani, exhibition catalogue, Loggetta Lombardesca, Ravenna, June-September 1984, Essegi, Ravenna 1984, pg. 52.
[16] E. Castellani, Continuità e nuovo cit., s. p.
[17] Ibid.
[18] E. Castellani in M. Carboni (ed.), Enrico Castellani. Il minimo passaggio la minima variazione, exhibition catalogue, Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”, Museo Laboratorio d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome 1994.
[19] J. Pollock, Lettere, riflessioni, testimonianze, ed. E. Pontiggia, SE, Milan 1991, pg. 78.
[20] PG. Manzoni, Libera dimensione, [published in English under the title Free Dimension] in «Azimuth», n. 2, 1960, s. p.
[21] U. Kultermann, Una nuova concezione di pittura, in «Azimuth», n. 2, 1960, s. p.
[22] E. Castellani, Totalità nell’arte d’oggi, in «Zero», n. 3, 1958, published in A. Zevi (ed.), Castellani cit., pg. 57-58.
[23] E. Castellani, interview with A. Trimarco cit., pg. 26.
[24] G. Dorfles, in Castellani, exhibition catalogue, Galleria La Polena, Genoa, January-February 1964, s. p.
[25] G. Dorfles, in Castellani, exhibition catalogue, Galleria del Leone, Venice, April 1964, s. p.
[26] C. Lonzi, in exhibition catalogue Galleria Notizie, Turin, March-April 1964, pg. 9.
[27] E. Castellani in C. Lonzi, Autoritratto cit., reprinted in A. Zevi (ed.), Castellani, cit., pg. 71.
[28] E. Castellani, Ambiente bianco, in Various (ed.), Lo spazio dell’immagine, exhibition catalogue, Palazzo Trinci, Foligno, July-October 1967, Alfieri Edizioni d’Arte, Venice 1967, pg. 78.
[29] L. Fontana, in C. Lonzi, Autoritratto cit., pg. 176.
[30] E.C. Goossen, The Betty Parsons Collection, exhibition catalogue, Finch College Museum of Art, March-April 1968, s. p.
[31] L. Alloway, Introduction, in Guggenheim International Award, exhibition catalogue, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, January-March 1964, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 1963, pg. 21.
[32] D. MacAgy (ed. by), On the Move. Kinetic Sculptures, exhibition catalogue, January-February 1964, pg. 2.
[33] W.C. Seitz (ed. by), The Responsive Eye, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York, February-April 1965; City Art Museum of Saint Louis, May-June 1965; Seattle Art Museum, July-August 1965; Pasadena Art Museum, September-November 1965; Baltimore Museum of Art, December 1965-January 1966, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1965, pg. 5.
[34] M. Massironi, Ricerche visuali, Conference held on February 25, 1973 as part of the series of the 1972-1973 educational activities at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna (printed by the magazine “Arte e Società”), republished in I. Mussa, Il Gruppo Enne, Bulzoni, Rome 1976, pg. 320.
[35] E. Castellani, Continuità e nuovo cit., s. p.
[36] E. Castellani, Letter to Topazia Alliata, Milan, January 6, 1964, published in A. Zevi (ed.), Castellani cit., pg. 62-63.
[37] E. Castellani, interview with A. Trimarco cit., pg. 23.
[38] D. Judd, Specific Objects, in «Arts Yearbook», no. 8, 1986, reprinted in D. Judd, Complete Writings, 1975-1986, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1987, pg. 117.
[39] Ibid.
[40] Ivi, pg. 120.
[41] M. Fried, Art and Objecthood, in «Artforum», June, 1967, reprinted in G. Battcock (ed. by), Minimal Art. A critical anthology, E.PG. Dutton, New York, 1968, pg. 117.
[42] K.G.E., Exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery, in «Art News», n. 4, Summer 1966, pg. 10.
[43] S.Z., Exhibition at Parsons Gallery, in «Arts Magazine», n. 9, 1966, pg. 54.
[44] A. Solomon, Italian Art of the Mid-Sixties, in Id. (ed. by), Young Italians, exhibition catalogue, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, January-March 1968; The Jewish Museum, New York, May-September 1968, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston 1968, pg. 6.
[45] Ibid.
[46] Ivi, pg. 8.
[47] Ivi, pg. 1.
[48] Ibid.
[49] Ivi, pg. 4.
[50] Ivi, pg. 2.
[51] D. MacAgy, Description, in Id. (ed. by), Plus By Minus: Today’s Half-Century, exhibition catalogue, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, March-April 1968, s. p.
[52] Postwar Italian Art A Special Issue, «October», n. 124, MIT Press, Spring 2008.
[53] A. Solomon, Italian Art of the Mid-Sixties cit., pg. 4.