(1930 Castelmassa, Italy – 2017 Viterbo, Italy)
Enrico Castellani was born in Castelmassa, Rovigo, in 1930. In 1952, he moved to Brussels where he studied Painting and Sculpture at the Académie des Beaux Arts before graduating in architecture at the École Nationale Supérieure de la Cambre in 1956. He returned to Milan, where he worked in the office of the architect Buzzi until 1963. In 1959, Castellani created his first painting in relief. Together with Piero Manzoni, who had ties with artists throughout Europe, he was an active member of the Zero group. Castellani founded the magazine “Azimuth” and a gallery of the same name. It was there, in 1960, that he held his first solo exhibition. In the same year, he presented three relief surfaces in the exhibition Monochrome Malerei at the Städtisches Museum Leverkusen, and together with Manzoni, he exhibited at the Galleria la Tartaruga in Rome. In 1962, Catellani and Manzoni, exhibited their works at the Galerie Aujourd’hui in Brussels and took part in the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 1963, Castellani was given a solo exhibition at the Galleria dell’Ariete in Milan and in 1964 he showed three canvases at the 32nd Venice Biennale, as well as taking part in the Guggenheim International Award in New York.
In 1965, he exhibited his large White Surface at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as part of the international exhibition The Responsive Eye. His works were chosen to represent Italy at the 8th Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna in São Paulo and at Trigon 65, Burggarten/Palmenhaus in Graz. In 1966, he received the Golin Prize for the works he exhibited in a solo exhibition gallery at the 33rd Venice Biennale. Later, he spent time in the United States, where he held his first American solo exhibition, at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York. In 1967, he was commissioned to create an environment for the exhibition Lo spazio dell’immagine in Palazzo Trinci in Foligno. This work of art was partially destroyed after the event and therefore Castellani created a second version in 1970 as part of Vitalità del negativo nell’arte italiano (1960/70) at Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome. After a brief period spent in Switzerland, Castellani returned to Italy in 1973 and moved to Celleno, near Viterbo, where he currently lives and works. He has continued to play by his own rules.
Day by day he creates new relief surfaces in which “infinite encounters, agonizing waits, tautological commensuration, existential suffering and utopian substantiations” take place, convinced of the validity and timeliness of his inventive spirit. In the recent years, the importance of his work has been recognized and validated internationally. The rare occasions on which he exhibits his work are precious. The most memorable are the retrospective exhibitions at the Lia Rumma Gallery in Milan in 1999 (inaugurating the gallery’s venue in Milan) and the exhibition organised at the Fondazione Prada in Milan in 2001. Other important venues that have hosted Catellani’s work are the Kettle’s Yard at Cambridge University, the Greta Meert in Brussels (2002), Galerie Di Meo in Paris (2004), the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (2005); the Lia Rumma in Naples (2006) and Haunch of Venison in New York (2009 and 2012). On 13 October 2010, Castellani was awarded the Praemium Imperiale for Painting, the highest artistic award worldwide, by the Honorary Patron of the Japan Art Association.