Art Basel 2014: Domenico Gnoli Beds

Domenico Gnoli’s life could be summarised as the classic story of an underappreciated painter who gains notoriety late in life.

Gnoli was born in 1933 to a family of art lovers. His father was an art historian and his mother was a ceramist. He spent the first part of his life working as a stage designer in theatre but he eventually discovered his true passion for painting. Gnoli used to say that he knew he was born to paint because painting was the only thing that his father considered admissible in life.

His production was limited, he worked mostly between 1954 to 1969. He reached his peak in 1969 with an acclaimed exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. Shortly afterwords he died of cancer in 1970, at age 36.

Gnoli is considered the idiosyncratic pioneer of close-ups and blow-ups in paintings. He has always been reluctant to fit into the stereotype of an avant-garde, perhaps one of the reasons why he wasn’t successful in his early career. The Italian and American art scenes of the 1950s and 1960s didn’t fully appreciate and understand Gnoli’s style. In fact his style was a hybrid of Informalism, Pop-Art and Surrealism. Gnoli stated that his aim was to represent figures for how they were in reality. His approach to painting became more comprehensible with the rise of Pop Art.

The painter’s subjects alternate between the inanimate and the human. His subjects are real because according to the artist imagination can’t give birth to anything better that reality. Gnoli’s recurring themes are everyday objects like ironed shirts, hair, beds and tables. Each subject matter is isolated and painted with a thick medium, similar to the textured Hautes Pâtes (high paste) constructions. Here comes out also his connection with Realism.

In February 2014 Domenico Gnoli’s Black Hair was sold for £7 million at Christie’s, a record for the artist. Luxembourg & Dayan gallery is currently presenting the exhibition DOMENICO GNOLI: BEDS at Art Basel 2014, a selection of paintings executed over the course of the celebrated Italian artist’s brief life.


Unknown-600x431Installation view at Art Basel 2014- Domenico Gnoli, Beds

By Fausta Bolettieri

All images courtesy of the Luxembourg & Dayan Gallery

 Domenico Gnoli, Beds is at Basel June 19, 2014 until June 22, 2014


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