Giulio Paolini’s debut was accompanied by a reflection on the primary linguistic structures of painting; from “Geometric Drawing” in 1960, in which the squaring of the canvas does not comprise the subject of the painting, but tends rather to qualify its support, to the “Untitled” immediately afterwards, the artist’s intention was to create recognition of the constitutive elements of the painting. The linguistic perspective, in which the canvas, stretcher, frame, lines and colours become the concrete tools of an empirical attitude, from the very start of the work, is combined with syntactic semantics determined to derive the scope of the work from the material quality of the chosen support. The “Untitled” of 1966, at the centre of which the edge of a white square is traced by a light pencil stroke, is shown as a meta-linguistic artifice, the construction of a painting within a painting; the painted surface mimics the space occupied by the rough canvas on the wall and plays with the transparency of the fabric, revealing how the wooden slats forming the crosspieces of the stretcher condition the profile of the geometric figure. The equivocal relationship between the subject of the work and its physical support is noticeably complicated if interpreted in a wider dimension that includes the surrounding space and the viewer (it should be borne in mind that the work was exhibited for the first time together with a large number of paintings that adapted in various ways to the space limits of the Ariete Gallery). The sense of disorientation produced by the alternating of fictitious and real planes is the result of an aesthetic trap which, tested above all in the biennial 1964-1965 and perfected, in those years, with the introduction of the photographic technique, bases its ambiguity on the duplication of the painting.


  • Title: Untitled
  • Creator: Giulio Paolini
  • Creator Lifespan: 1940
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Genoa
  • Date: 1966
  • Physical Dimensions: w201.5 x h200.5 cm
  • Inscriptions: Signed, dated and title verso: Giulio Paolini / Senza titolo 1996. On the frame, label: Autore Paolini, titolo senza titolo, anno 1996, Dim 200 x 200, tecnica, proprietà Christian Stein – 69 Torino
  • Date of acquisition: 1991
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Giulio Einaudi Editore SPA, Turin
  • Provenance: Fondazione Guido ed Ettore De Fornaris, on deposit at GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: All rights reserved, GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Medium: Pencil, tempera on canvas

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