The Overlooked Italian Post-War Artist Domenico Gnoli –

See part one here:

domenico gnoli busto femminile di dorso d5486408h The Overlooked Italian Post War Artist Domenico Gnoli   artmarketblog.comWhen it comes to overlooked artistic talent, Italian born realist painter Dominico Gnoli (1933-1970) would have to be one of the most compelling.  Born to an art historian father and artist mother, Gnoli never undertook formal training as a visual artist instead choosing to learn the art of drawing and printmaking from the Italian artist Carlo Alberto Petrucci.  Best known for his known for his portrayal of details of dress and domestic objects, Gnoli’s work ranges from Escher like surrealist illustrations to richly detailed paintings of hair and clothing.  An artforum article from 2001 suggests that one of the reasons that Gnoli’s work not have received the attention it deserves is that he spent much of his life away from his native Italy and has therefore been almost ignored by Italian museums which rarely revisit the output of this seminal postwar artist

Very little information is available on Gnoli, but that is likely to change very soon given the rapidly increasing desirability of Gnoli’s work.  According to a book written in 1975 by Luigi Carluccio dedicated to the final period of Gnoli’s work that extends from 1954 to 1969:

“Gnoli’s work is rich and lucid in a super-realistic style with subtle colors that somehow radiate light. His elegant, almost enameled , perfection often has the luster we notice in Vermeer. Gnoli has created an intimate world that focuses on single details with an absorbed, uncanny attention that reveals a household in a rumpled bedspread, the story of a man’s life in the parting of his hair, the social values of an entire decade in a lady’s brassi re. Here are passive people and objects that quiver with life, boats that turn into towers and towers that seem to be siling: here are the humble and banal mass-products of daily life painted in the most accurate and realistic manner that somehow transforms them into a source of wodner, beauty and pleasure.”

A new world auction record was set for Gnoli by Christie’s on the 14th of October when the sold for Busto femminile di dorso (Female Bust from the Back) for £2,337,250 against an estimate of £500,000 – £800,000. The previous auction record for a work by Gnoli was also set by Christie’s who sold the artist’s Branche de Cactus for £1,049,250 against an estimate of £280,000 – £350,000 during their 28 June 2011 Post-War and Contemporary Evening auction.  The third highest price at auction for a work by Gnoli was also set by Christie’s on the 14th of October  2011 with the artist’s Pelliccia (Fur) which achieved £881,250 against an estimate of  £250,000 – £350,000. This work was previously offered by Sotheby’s in 2005 for £160,000 against an estimate of £180,000 – £250,000.

Given that so few of Gnoli’s works appear at auction, it may take a while for his reputation as an artist to receive the recognition it deserves.  Nevertheless, the signs are positive that the work of Dominico Gnoli, an artist whose life was cut short by cancer at the age of 37, is on its way to becoming as popular as that of other famous post-war Italian artists.


Domenico Gnoli (1933-1970)
Busto femminile di dorso (Female Bust from the Back)
signed, titled and dated ‘D. Gnoli “Busto femminile di dorso” 1965′ (on the reverse)
acrylic and sand on canvas
39 3/8 x 47¼in. (100 x 120cm.)
Painted in 1965

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.comt The Overlooked Italian Post War Artist Domenico Gnoli, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.


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  • Motherofpearl13

    I wallpapered my living room walls with paper I believe was designed by Gnoli.  The images appear to be larger versions of his drawing “Imaginary City,” (done in 1956) which hammered at Sotheby’s  for $13,000 in 2006 in their Impressionist and Modern sale.  I came across the picture in the catalog accidentally just before the auction and caused me to begin researching Gnoli.

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