EST. 2009

May 17, 2018

That Close Crop

IT'S NOT IMMEDIATELY OBVIOUS WHAT THE IMAGES PORTRAY. Domenico Gnoli's close crop paintings, of subjects like hair or apparel, are rendered in such tight frames, there is little context to identify them with. A braid might be among the easier ones to recognize, but the flesh-toned inside of a woman's shoe, or a button partly concealed behind its eyelet, require closer inspection.

Domenico Gnoli was a drop-out, and dabbled in various jobs including stage design before his career as a painter took off in 1968. It was a rapid rise since then, ending in a tragic halt. Gnoli's paintings were featured at the Venice Biennale that year, followed by his debut show at New York's Sidney Janis gallery in 1969. Gnoli was 36 when he died of cancer in April of 1970.

However short-lived his career had been, Gnoli's legacy proved as large as his big, bold canvases. The acrylic-and-sand paintings of voluptuous close-ups are collected by some of the world's major museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, MoMA, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. His Black Hair auctioned at Christie's for over £7m.

Gnoli's body of work encompasses sculpture, sketches, and other media, but it's his paintings of blown-up details that I find most striking and original. To paint everyday subjects with such allure requires an inherent sensuality.

Black Hair, Inside of Lady's Shoe, Unbuttoned Button and Braid by Domenico Gnoli. Images from