The Italian Almanac

The Disturbing Muses by De Chirico

Italian Art - September 28

The art market is finally giving modern Italian art the respect it deserves, with prices for works by leading artists hitting new highs, according to Christies auction house. "Demand for 20th century Italian works of art is increasingly strong on the international markets," said Olivier Camu, the international director of the London branch of Christies.

Camu said the output of people like Lucio Fontana, Giorgio de Chirico, Piero Manzoni, Pino Pascali, Mario Merz and Alighiero Boetti is commanding increasingly high prices. He was speaking at the Turin stage of The Italian Sale Tour, which is promoting Christies' annual auction on modern and contemporary Italian art. Paintings and sculptures by those artists will feature prominently at this year's auction, which takes place in London on October 16.

Camu predicts that the booming demand for Italian modern art is set to continue. "Demand is strong, yet the works are still undervalued at the moment, which makes them even more interesting for potential buyers," he explained.

Experts say that Italian art rediscovered some of its former glory in the 20th century, after resting on its laurels a little in the 1800s. For example, early in the 20th century the Italian Futurists developed their dynamic vision of the modern world, while de Chirico's metaphysical paintings paved the way for Surrealism. Fontana's painting later expanded the boundaries of artistic expression, with his use of materials and gestures like the slashing of the canvas, and proved enormously influential.