Mimmo Rotella 

L’astronaute, 1966
Photo emulsion on canvas
146 x 114 cm
57 1/2 x 44 7/8 in
Signed on the lower right on recto: “Rotella/66”
Signed on the upper left on verso: “Rotella/66”

€ 350,000.00


L’astronaute, 1966 is an example of the use of photographic reproduction on canvas within Mimmo Rotella’s practice, a technique which he begun working with in 1963 in a quest for mechanical painting and that can be considered a natural progression – or rather, reversal, of his creative, layering processes of décollage. He still uses posters and proofs in these works, which become even more objective in forming the artist’s iconography of the present. The procedure, which he calls reportage, involves choosing images, photographing them, projecting the blown-up negatives onto a canvas chemically treated with photographic emulsion to fix the image and when required, colouring. Reportage doesn’t just refer to the technique – namely, the multi-stage transferral of images from one medium to another – it comments on the content of the works, bringing to the fore the artist’s interest in exploring communication and media. The deriving photo emulsions are indeed recordings of contemporary events and their media dissemination, at once communicating and commemorating the images they capture. They play between temporal dimensions; speaking of something contemporary to the making of the work, of the reality of a document appropriated by the artist and through whose gesture is already blurring into memory.

Acting as a chronicle, a physical manifestation of history, the photo emulsion L’astronaute, 1966 is an appropriation of one of the first images documenting the first American spacewalk. Presumably sourced from the cover of American newspaper Chicago Daily News published on the 8th of June 1965, it captured the astronaut Edward Higgins White walking in space while tethered to the spacecraft Gemini IV. This canvas was first exhibited as part of the show Salon Comparaisons at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1966. In his review of the Salon, French art critic Otto Hahn reported: “Another interesting piece of the Salon Comparaisons: Mimmo Rotella and his Astronauta, created with the photographic reproduction technique. It is a very pure work which places Rotella among the theorists [of technique].”