This work on black paper, sandwiched between two sheets of glass and framed like that, floating, in the style of the times, is a mixed media piece (oil pastel possibly), featuring anthropomorphic forms. It is signed at lower left in pencil "Mirko" and dated there '58. The artist, MIRKO BASALDELLA (1910-1969) is mentioned online as one of the most significant Italian sculptors of the 20th century. Basaldella was born in Udine, Italy, and came to Rome in 1934 with his siblings Dino and Afro (works by the latter can approach $1 million at auction today). In Paris by 1937, he achieved rapid recognition in the arts community, exhibiting at the 1954 Venice Biennale and at the 1957 Sao Paolo Biennale. The year 1955 saw him included in "A New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors". During that period, Peggy Guggenheim purchased some of his works for her collection, and he exhibited at the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York. By 1957 Mirko (went by first name) was hired to organize the design courses at Harvard University. He worked there, returning to Italy in the summers, until his early death at age 59 from a heart attack. An online source wrote that "his forms came from nature", much of it "anthropomorphic" and "totem-like". The imagery in the present work, out of a Santa Monica estate, certainly fits that description. The drawing measures 15 1/2" by 11 5/8", and as framed measurements are 21 1/2" by 17 1/4". On the reverse side of the black paper is the number "3960" in white ink. The drawing has evidently been sealed between these sheets of glass since the 1950's. As the image indicates the paper is a bit wavy. Overall, a truly modern mid-century work of art which should please the most discriminating collector, by a very well known name.
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