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PAOLO SCHEGGI (Italian, 1940 – 1971) created Op-art, in that his art aimed to illustrate or demonstrate theories of perceptual psychology, visual cognition, and optics. Awarded the chair in psychology at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Aquila in 1969, he approached the relationship of art to optics from a more academic point of view than most Op artists, who, for the most part, were limited to reproduction of optical illusions and gimmicks.

The formal categories that Scheggi found to address his research interests best were modularity, monochromy, negative space, planarity, and reflectivity. In the 1960s,To explore these topics, he devised the inter-generic pittura-oggetto (picture-object). Composed of layered canvases, the pittura-oggetto existed somewhere between sculpture and painting, having both planar and spatial properties. Scheggi grouped them into various series, including the pitture-oggetto a elementi modulari (modular picture-objects), the Intersuperficie curve (curved intersurfaces), shown here, and the Intersuperficie a zone riflesse (intersurfaces with reflective zones). These works, which owe a debt to Scheggi’s teacher, Lucio Fontana, are rigorous without being pedantic, and Scheggi, while deadly serious about the high purpose of his work, had no trouble embracing the decorative aspects of his work, and hoped that the visual language he had developed could be applied not only to art, but to fashion and commercial design as well.

After he premature death from heart disease, his works were shown at the Italian pavilion of the Venice Biennale of 1972 and 1976. In 2013, the Associazione Paolo Scheggi was founded in Milan, dedicated to the study, authentication, and conservation of Scheggi’s artistic legacy, as well as the compilation of a catalogue raisonné of Scheggi’s work.


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