The ‘décollage’ artist who drew upon torn posters of Marilyn is the subject of a new book, Mimmo Rotella: Manifesto, as Christian House reports for the Telegraph. (FYI, the book’s text is in Italian.)
“In 1954, the Calabrian artist Mimmo Rotella moved to Rome, and discovered his muse in the city’s post-war, pockmarked streets. ‘One evening, as I was leaving my studio, I was attracted to the colours and the boldness of the torn posters that were hanging from the walls,’ he recalled. ‘They were living things that stirred strong emotions in me.’
Rotella began to roam the capital, tearing down sheets of paper heralding the talents of Marilyn Monroe, ministers and circus acts. Passers by were aghast …. At his atelier near Piazza del Popolo, the fragments of posters were glued, layer upon layer, on to canvas, before being ripped, torn and scraped to create ‘new, unpredictable forms.’
Rotella’s arrival in Rome coincided with the golden age of Italian posters. This was the era of Cinecittà (the studio nicknamed ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’), an influx of American tourists and Italy’s ‘economic miracle’. Rotella would come to see his compositions as metaphors for the fluctuating fortunes of his country.
Rotella called his own art of erosion ‘décollage’ – the opposite of collage. When he tired of layering ephemera, he turned the posters around to show their plaster-flaked, mouldy versos. ‘I liked material subjected to bad weather, I liked being able to take it as it was and showing it. It was a theft of reality,’ he said.
Since his death in 2006, this rootless interrogator of consumer culture has become a high-end brand himself … There is a nostalgic pleasure for film buffs and europhiles – the Cinema Paradiso effect – to be had from all the torn glimpses of starlets and matinee idols.”