Mimmo Rotella

Baskerville, 1961
Dècollage, torn poster on canvas
82.5 x 131 cm
32 1/2 x 51 5/8 in
Signed on the lower left on recto: “Rotella”

Price on request


Baskerville, 1961 is a great example of Mimmo Rotella’s décollage works, the technique the artist had invented in 1953 and that he is widely known for. Often dressed rather dashingly, Rotella would head out into the streets of Rome. In a fleeting moment of mischievous vandalism, he would tear down film and advertisement posters that interested him conceptually rather than visually. Back in the studio, Rotella would mount these posters on to canvas or board, ripping and tearing away at each layer. The act of appropriation and reassembly of the city detritus through these ripped, mass-produced posters and adverts, paradoxically resulted in a work of high culture, creating new meaning through unexpected visual juxtapositions that transcended the ephemeral nature of its parts. Playing with the images, Rotella gave life to a series of intertwined icons of the myth of an international, playful and colourful Italy.

The early 1960’s, when Baskerville was created, saw Rotella’s increased attention towards the world of cinema, with pieces including La dolce vita, 1962 and The hot Marilyn, 1962 exclusively dedicated to the medium of the film poster. According to critic Germano Celant, allowing sourced images to guide the artist’s gesture in creating his work neutralises any pretence of artistic heroism, introducing instead an uninterrupted and virtually inexpressive compositional flow within a stream of images commenting on the value and commercialisation of the industries of fame and film. Mimmo Rotella’s interest in the world of cinema as a subject matter accompanied him until the end of his career and was manifested through works created across a variety of media.

In Baskerville, 1961 Mimmo Rotella layered at least three fragments of film advertisements that were torn and ripped. The work’s title references the 1959 film The Hound of the Baskervilles directed by Terence Fisher. Its Italian film poster centred onto the canvas, shows the translated title La furia di Baskerville. Although the other poster fragments are not as recognisable, it is likely that the one layered beneath it pertains to the film The Man Upstairs (distributed in Italy with the title Tre minuti di tempo), as the screenwriter credit for Alun Falconer is legible on the left edge of the artwork. Another visible trace of a film poster is the yellow font layered right underneath the title in La furia di Baskerville. The detectible words from the third title point towards a poster for the movie 38 parallelo missione compiuta, the Italian release of the American film Pork Chop Hill.