Piero Dorazio

Piccolo Mattutino, 1958
oil on canvas
19 1/2h x 13 3/4w in
49.53h x 34.93w cm
Grey, 1957
watercolor on grey paper
23h x 19 1/4w in
58.42h x 48.90w cm
Pink, 1962
watercolor on paper
27 1/2h x 19 1/4w in
69.85h x 48.90w cm
Untitled, 1960
ink on paper
13 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. (34.2 x 52 cm)
signed lower left: Piero Dorazio 1960

Attractions, 1967
Oil on canvas
38 ¼ x 31 ½ in. (97.2 x 80 cm)
Signed, titled, and dated on reverse: Dorazio 1967 Attractions

untitled, 1998
gouache on laid paper
53.3 x 66 cm (21 x 26 in.)
Piero Dorazio (1927–2005)
Untitled, 1960
Watercolor and crayon on paper
20½ x 28¼ in. (52 x 72 cm)

Born in Rome and trained in traditional classical painting and drawing, Dorazio (1927 – 2005) turned to architecture as a university student in 1945. In the late 1940s, Dorazio became active in a variety of artistic and literary circles, when he was exposed to a wealth of artistic influences and intellectual currents, from the School of Paris and Surrealist biomorphism to Russian Supremativism, Constructivism, and even Italian Futurism. Notably, he rediscovered the art of Giacomo Balla, whom he sought out in Rome in 1950 and visited often, studying the paintings and sketchbooks in the neglected Futurist's studio. At the same time, Dorazio became actively involved in design, printing silk-screens, and creating furniture. In 1950, a visit to Paris led to his collaboration with a number of fellow artists in organizing a notable avant-garde institution, L' Age d' Or. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, while traveling throughout Europe and visiting New York, Dorazio was evolving the approach that a decade later would establish his international renown.

In his urbane, tense abstractions, Dorazio has captured not life but rather a fleeting, emotionally charged glimpse of it in passing. Luminosity itself might be the subject of his delicately textured and atmospheric grids, embodying a lyricism that is both fragile and firmly constructed. In his watercolors of the late 1950s and 1960s, Dorazio tethers radiant bars of color to one another, creating pictorial textures that appear to be the inspired efforts of a weaver working with tensile bands of pure color and light. Yet Dorazio's elegant abstractions are not merely atmospheric and ethereal. As the tactile grids twist and writhe energetically across the surface, they reveal firm, fluid brushstrokes of great confidence.

Somehow, Dorazio strikes a balance between the rigidity of the grid format and this lush tactile surface treatment. With their pulsating masses of strong color and rough texture, the grids appear to have settled on the paper, as if through some mysterious natural process that is at once dynamic and graceful. In these monochromatic crosshatched grids, Dorazio has abandoned organic polychromatic gesture to focus on the essence of his compositions: the surface itself, patterned and infused with soft, tinted light. Each composition is rendered in exquisite, assured strokes, achieving a remarkable and highly personal synthesis of lyricism and a barely tangible formalism.

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