“the inventor of décollage technique in 1953/4 appropriating cinema and advertising posters from city walls, mining them for meaning”
Mimmo Rotella came of age in Rome during the post-war period and established his place within a cultural movement recognised internationally due to the presence in the city of artists such as Alberto Burri, Ettore Colla, Carla Accardi and Cy Twombly. He invented the décollage technique in 1953/4, and remained one of the key artists working within this practice for the rest of his life. He appropriated cinema and advertising posters from city walls and mined them for meaning by tearing, scarring and excavating their layers, initially leaving an abstract patterning before moving to the more figurative use of subject matter. The artist was decisively in line with his time: his revolutionary gesture of tearing carried out a need for a more direct contact with life and the reality by which he was surrounded.
Furthermore, his experimentation with material, technique and concept fulfilled an avant-garde and political undertone: ‘Ripping posters off walls is the only revenge, the only protest against a society that has lost its taste for change and astounding transformations. I glue the posters, then tear them: new, unpredictable forms are created. I’ve abandoned the easel to make this process...’ (M. Rotella, catalogue of 1957 exhibition at Galleria d’Arte Selecta.)