Mario Schifano Italian, 1934-1998



Following the end of the Second World War, Mario Schifano moved with his family from his native Libya to Rome. Showing little interest in school, he soon began restoring ceramics, a trade learned from his archaeologist and restorer father. An autodidact, Schifano soon took up painting, initially producing bold monochrome canvases, with strips of glued wrapping paper and stencils applied to them. His work was critically acclaimed, leading to several exhibitions in Italy and later in the USA, capturing the attention of the internationally renowned art dealer Ileana Sonnabend.


In the early 1960s Schifano’s interest turned to the urban landscape of Rome and he began using coloured Perspex, corporate logos, and layered paper like billboards in an exploration of the street and popular culture. He frequently travelled to the USA, where his works were exhibited alongside those of American pop artists. In the mid-1960s, in parallel with painting, he started directing 16mm films, inspired by Jean-Luc Goddard’s principles of improvisation.


Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at institutions such as Museum of Fine Arts in Malta, Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, Yurakucho Art Forum in Tokyo, and Musée Saint Pierre d’Art Contemporain in Lyon, and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires.