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Italo Valenti born 1912 [- 1995]
Inscribed on the back 'I. VALENTI | 1963 | Nr.232' and (possibly not by the artist) 'PALESTRINA'
Paper collage on hardboard, 18 1/2 x 18 7/8 (47 x 48)
Purchased from the artist through the Waddington Galleries (Knapping Fund) 1964
Exh: Italo Valenti, Galerie Charles Lienhard, Zurich, November-December 1963 (1524); Italo Valenti, Waddington Galleries, London, June-July 1964 (8)
The artist wrote on 7 February 1966 that he began to make collages by chance, to amuse himself, at Christmas 1959, on small pieces of card which had formed part of a toy for children. From then on he became absorbed with this technique, new to him, of papier collé.
'Like children who have played with paper kites, those paper birds which try to lift you on high and which always still give me a feeling of space, this form has always haunted me. This form is the same as that of the clouds of smoke from the locomotives which I could see from my windows in Milan, overlooking the station in Milan. I live with those lozenge shapes. "Palestrina" was preceded by and precedes other rhombiform elements, sometimes transported into aerial and sometimes into terrestrial space. I hope some day to achieve my dream of creating a painting which embodies my childhood sensations. The title, for me, is an afterthought and plays the role of an aide-mémoire. However, an irrational connection exists. "Palestrina" is an old city even older than Rome. I had been very much impressed by a magnificent Etruscan tripod from the Bernardini tomb found there. Three men and three animals stand in a circle looking down into the bowl. Perhaps this is indicative of a liking for observing a contained space in an inverted sky.'
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.740-1, reproduced p.740