Born in Catanzaro, Italy, Mimmo  Rotella (1918 – 2006) is a pivotal figure of post-war European art.  A wandering visionary, he embraced a highly experimental artistic practice which placed him at the forefront of Italian Pop art.  Throughout his career, Rotella undertook a relentless quest for novelty and avant-gardism which led him to envision his décollages, a pioneering way of coalescing the rowdiness of the city with the flatness of the painting.  The artist would tear advertising posters from the walls and reassemble them on canvas, thus systematically deconstructing the everyday object.  Images of mass consumer goods such as oil, liqueur or canned cat food transitioned from city walls to canvases, torn and decontextualised.  Long before graffiti artists, before Pop Art, Rotella captured the zeitgeist of the time, recording malaise, boredom, collective passions, fetishes, political delirium.

He admired the spirit of American Pop art – emphasising the newly-familiar aesthetics of commodity, advertising and celebrity culture – which paralleled the economic boom of post-war Italy and the dazzling Roman dolce vita.  His works featuring icons of mass media aesthetics such as Elvis Presley or Paul Newman are pieces that alone increase the sacral aura of the stars.  A tear becomes a gesture, a modus operandi, the embodiment of Rotella’s daring genius.


Biography & Works


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‘The Urban Poet’ Exhibition Catalogue

‘The Urban Poet’ Exhibition Catalogue

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Mimmo Rotella: The Urban Poet