Mario Schifano (1934-1998) is the Italian exponent of Pop Art. His works of large format are characterised by monochrome and the use of commercial brands like Coca Cola and Esso. Backed by major Italian and international galleries (Plinio de Martiis and Ileana Sonnabend), along with the “cursed” painters set (including Franco Angeli and Tano Festa), Schifano’s work represented a major turning point in Italian and European contemporary art. A true eclectic, he studied new techniques in painting and was one of the first artists to use a computer to create art, and one of the first to experiment with hybrids involving painting and other forms of art like music, cinema, video and photography. Close to pop culture and the beatnik music scene, like Andy Warhol he collaborated with bands designing covers for various Italian groups. He died of a heart attack aged 64.
In an unusual format, Luca Ronchi’s book reconstructs Mario Schifano’s world, as well as the social and artistic milieu of the period, using the direct accounts of those in the artist’s circle, gathered over time and assembled in the form of almost theatrical dialogues. He thus creates an elaborate and objective portrait that brings his subject alive, as man and artist closely bound up with his time.
The images from the Schifano Archives open up the artist’s private life, and include previously unpublished material and lesser known works.