Mino Argento

Mino Argento
Mino Argento
Born January 5, 1927 (1927-01-05) (age 84)
Rome, Italy
Nationality Italian, American
Field Painter, Architect
Movement Abstract Expressionist, Lyrical abstraction, Geometric abstraction, Minimal art, Impressionism, collages, Monochrome painting

Mino Argento (born January 5, 1927) is an Italian artist, whose works comprise abstract paintings on canvas and paper.


Life and work

Mino Argento was born in Rome, Italy in 1927. He worked in architecture as a young man. His career as an artist began in Italy including a 1968 exhibition at Gallery Astrolobio in Rome presented by Marcello Venturoli the famous Italian writer, poet, and art critic.

Until his arrival in 1969 in New York City Argento was a figurative painter. He left Italy because of his unwillingness to continue painting in a figurative manner, which he felt was expected in Europe. America, it seemed to him, offered other possibilities. 

Upon moving to New York, Argento presented one of his first one man exhibitions at the Livingston-Learmonth Gallery in 1974. Argento was the gallery’s opening artist. He was also represented in London, England, by Nigel Greenwood beginning in 1974. By 1977 he would be represented by Betty Parsons. Throughout the seventies his work would be presented alongside such other well known artists as Frank Stella, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ronald Davis, Ruth Vollmer, Jack Youngerman, Marino Marini (sculptor), Giorgio de Chirico and Shusaku Arakawa. Later, in 1983 his work would become part of one of the last (if not the last) shows at the Betty Parsons Gallery after her death in 1982.

Artistic style

In the 1960s Argento worked in oil and canvas collage. Later in the 1970s and 1980s he began to apply an acrylic gesso to prepared canvas, sometimes so thinly brushed that it seemed barely to cover the grayish surface of the canvas. He dealt with the ambiguous subleties of the interplay of positive-negative space. Argento enjoyed contrasting the hardness and the aridity of penciled lines with sensuous layers of oil. He would build up the white gesso, at times adding oil paint, until it could almost be mistaken for collage. He varied the thickness of drawn lines creating an unusual sensitivity for the weight of various forms. Argento meticulously built up his delicate surfaces, so fragile that every gesture was critical, with layer upon transparent layer of gesso, carefully balancing the tone values of the medium against the intensity of his pencil line. Using oil, acrylic and occasionally graphite in conjunction with the gesso, these high-key paintings are not about "being white" but are essentially concerned with the absence color. His background in architecture pervades his paintings through a sense of geometry.


In 1968, Marcello Venturoli said:

And one that reaches far greater results pictorial Impressionism Liberty, now going with a realistic, where love and female sovereign, now with a look more amused than ever to the beloved models, but the implications to the environment, rich the decorative details of backgrounds, collages, compartments, which resemble those of Leonardo Cremonini. But while the figure Cremonini and absorbed from the environment and how indiversificata-a conspiracy that do things on people-here in the most bitter but vital Argento, the figure remains sovereign, it is decorated, is complicated in a dressing gown, in drapery, becomes a goddess of rest and relaxation in a situation so composed and lonely, as alluding to the presence of man.[1]

New York

Mino Argento, New York, 1973

In 1974, John Gruen said:

These are geometric abstractions that could be called “White on White” with their delicate, yet boldly differentiated forms and textures. One can see Argento’s mind and hand attempting something different within the geometric genre. At times he succeeds, at others, he merely echoes the deja-vu syndromes of shape within shape and closed-hued tonality. Still, one is in the presence of a genuine artist, one who has a most felicitous affinity for making the most out of self-imposed limitations of form and color. If at the moment elegance overrides depth.[2]

In 1975, Ellen Lubell said in Arts Magazine:

OK Harris Gallery previously provided a refreshing change of pace. Mino Argento’s four white-on-white paintings were variations on the gridded, rectangle-on-rectangle themes, but were enlivened whit differences in rhythm and conception. One composition included grayed grids and vertical rectangles in several, more opaque whites, clustered centrally. The keen sense of proportion, the sense of angularity abut the rectangles, and the cracked paint within one of them that looked like a natural grid contributed to make this painting a finely tuned, complex example of the genre.[3]

In 1977, Noel Frackman said in Arts Magazine:

No lines or forms are extraneous; the application of the paint itself, the juxtapositions of elements all work towards a tense, euclidean harmony. The varying thickness of drawn lines and an unusual sensitivity for the weight of various forms lift these paintings out of the realm of simple geometric constructions into the area of the theoretical. In a sense, these white paintings are philosophical musings on the nature of geometry as pure idea.[4]

In 1977, Michael Florescu said in Arts Magazine:

Is this his rendering of a far distant race-memory, the way in which, for instance, the pyramids came to be built, where the raw material of the structure evolved into the mechanics by which similar enterprises came about in the future? Or are we, at this point in time, to interpret the physical effect of mistiness the deliberate fragmentation and obscuring of the image (elsewhere a seemingly endless vista of virgin grid) as representing no less that visible breath of a concerned Creator![5]

Mino Argento, New York, 1973 #2

In 1977, Nina Ffrench-Frazier said in ARTnews.

Argento deals with the ambiguous subleties of the interplay of positive-negative space. There is more than the mind at first can grasp in these monotone paintings of squares, traingles, grids, and rectangular. Apparently involved with Pythagorean geometry, Argento-much in the same tradition as Filippo Brunelleschi, Bramante and other Renaissance men-is in reality fascinated by the intensely spiritual beauty of Pythagorean philosophy, with which he so marvelously infuses all of his paintings.[6]

In 1980, Michael Florescu said in Arts Magazine.

Is his essay “Vicissitudes of the Square,” Harold Rosenberg Noted, “Painting squares is now no different from painting trees or clowns; the question of the feeling they convey becomes all-important,” Argento conveys feeling by means of his play with perspectives, with units of measurement, with directional symbols, with modes of calculation, and with ventors of suggested light, He creates illusions of refraction, causing the spectator to look at his squares. Argento dramatizes distance by the recognition of affirmations and denials within the same picture plane. This particular effect was identified by Theodor Adorno, when he wrote that "distance is not a safety zone, but a field of tension. It is manifested not in relaxing the claim of ideas to truth, but in delicacy and fragility of thinking." This characteristic may be best appreciated if Argento's paintings are considered for what I believe they are: a valid contemporay form of the traditional still life.[7]

Los Angeles

In 1988, Cathy Curtis said in Los Angeles Times.

Mino Argento's checkerboard-strewn abstractions are an '80s version of the lightweight sensibility of those School of Paris painters who embroidered on the big guys' themes. He specializes in geometric shapes with cloudy edges, expanses of industrial gray touched up with bright-and-airy candy-colored backgrounds. There's a slight bow in the chic direction of architecture (mitered-frame shapes, graph-ruled passages and even the suggestion of a facade or two). It all works best when the shapes are crisp, smartly patterned and manageably small. (Los Angeles premiere exhibition 1988, April Sgro-Riddle Gallery.)[8][9]

Forty Years of Italian Art

Group show of Contemporary Italian art. Twenty-eight artists are represented in 50 pieces of sculpture and painting. Especially rewarding is the display of relatively artists: Mino Argento restrained geometry in his painting wars with the infinity of space in the gentle gradations of background color. Calcagno's 1962 painting, White Heat, presents fluid but difficult surfaces which suggest both Clyfford Still and Franz Kline. Sculpture for the most part looked far more slick that painting in this exhibition, but Gio Pomodoro enormous bronze slabs in Contatti: 1970, gave an authentic sense of excitement and tension. This reviewer was disappointed to discover that almost all the avant-garden of the early 20th century such as Boccocci, Giorgio de Chirico, Marino Marini (sculptor), Giorgio Morandi and Gustavo Foppiani had been on brief loan from private collections.[10]

Fourteen Painters

The omission stems from a past failure to relate the work of two groups of artists working on opposite sides of Atlantic without contact or influence upon each other yet both equally free of formulated systems or of constitutes "Schools" And the evidence postulated is to bring together "fourteen painters" each offering different yet complementary spatial concepts. Though limited the range exhibited suffices to evoke a contemporary break both with the geometric language of Minimal Art and with optical art. Space is no longer coherence but coexistence of heterogeneities. A coexistence expressed as clearly in the entire range or Canvasses presented, as in indivual works. Jean Allemand, Shusaku Arakawa, Mino Argento, Juhana Blomstedt, Ronald Davis, Maxime Defert, Michel Gueranger, Patrick Ireland, Nicholas Krushenick, Barry Le Va, Finn Mickelborg, Philippe Morisson, Georges Noel and Frank Stella. To call this a revival of illusionism, is to forget that such a difinition makes sense only when speaking in terms of representation, and not in situations of intensity and of force rather than of form. The simultaneous development of these studies on both sides of the Atlantic unknown even to the painters involved is the best evidence of their necessity as if the Mondernism of pictoral space was ceasing to be found in reference to flatness, to become an exploration of its own intensities.

In the Words Adorno: "All thought has its moment of universality anything well thought out will inevitably be thought of elsewhere by someone else".[11]

Friuli Art and Monuments (FRIAM)

Among the many episodes of international solidarity on the morrow of the grievous Earthquake which struck 1976 Friuli earthquake, a significant one regards a numerous group of American Artists who donated a large collection of works of Paintings, Sculpture and Graphics, that is, a patrimony not only economic but ideal and Spiritual as well. The creation of the "Friuli Art and Monuments" (FRIAM) committee which promoted the collection of the works (Project Rebuild).[12] This Exhibit offers an important contribution toward the strengthening of Italian-American. Lee Adler, Carl Andre, Stephen Antonakos, Mino Argento, Edward Avedisian, Lewis Baltz, Isabel Bishop, Ronald Bladen, Nell Blaine, Norman Bluhm, Ernest Briggs, James Brooks, Rudolph Burckhardt, Charles Cajori, Rosemarie Castoro, Susan Castoro, Giorgio Cavallon, Christo, Franco Ciarlo, Suetelle Coman, William N. Copley, Allan D'Arcangelo, robert Dash, Gene Davis, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Mark Di Suvero, Lois Dodd, Seymour Drumlevitc h, Edward Dugmore, Lawrence Fane, William Fares, Louis Finkelstein, Mary Frank, Albert J. Friscia, Paul Georges, Leon Golub, Joseph Goto, Philip Grausman, Nancy Graves, Cleve Gray, Stephen Greene, Philip Guston, Richard Haas, Dimitri Hadzi, Grace Hartigan, Richard Hennessy, Horst P. Horst, Donald Judd, James Juszczhy, Ruth Rita Kagan, Wolf Kahn, Alex Katz, Lila Katzen, Ellsworth Kelly, Ed Kerns, W.Y. Koenigstein, Joyce Kozloff, Lee Krasner, Ronnie Landfield, Ibram Lassaw, Mom Levinson, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Linda Lindeberg, Seymour Lipton, Robert Mangold, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Brice Marden, Nicholas Marsicano, Knox Martin, Jack Massey, R aoul Middleman, Willard Midgette, Lew Minter, Gregoire Muller, Alice Neel, Costantino Nivola, Doug Ohlson, John Opper, Phillip Pavia, Beverly Pepper, Charles O. Perry, Howardena Pindell, Murray Reich, Tony Rosenthal, Edwin Ruda, Kikuo Saito, Fred Sandback, Tommy Schmidt, George Segal, Joel Shapiro, Sidney Simon, Joe Stefanelli (painter), Saul Steinberg, Frank Stella, Harold Stevenson, Marjorie Strider, Esteban Vicente, Ruth Vollmer, Neil Welliver, Robert White, William T. Wiley, Christopher Wilmarth, Jane Wilson, Wing Wilsons, Adja Yunkers, Kes Zapkus. It is always difficult to introduce a group show: and, in this case, it is a group show, even if the works, donated by over a hundred "American Artist to the Earthquake-struck towns of Friuli", are destined to cohabit in a permanent collection.[13]



  • 1965, Condotti Gallery, Rome, Italy. ("Umanità e Construttivismo di Mino Argento" by Giuseppe Fabbri, Bussola, (February, 1965)
  • 1966, Realschule Gallery, Vaduz
  • 1968, Galleria Astrolabio, Rome, Crane & Korchin Gallery, Manhasset, New York. ("Mino Argento" presentation by Marcello Venturoli.
  • 1974, October 28, Meet The Artist, Livingston-Learmonth Gallery, New York City.[14]
  • 1977, Betty Parsons Gallery, New York City
  • 1979, Betty Parsons Gallery, New York City
  • 1987, J. P. Natkin Gallery, New York City
  • 1988, April Sgro-Riddle Gallery, Los Angeles


Selected Major Collections

General Electric, New York City, Betty Parsons, New York City.[25] and Atlantic Richfield Co (Arco).,[26] Civici musei e gallerie di storia e arte

(in others as well as many private collections)

List of works

Late 1950s and early 1960s

  • La Tigre, (The Tiger) Oil e Collage su Tela, 60x 70 cm, 1968.[27]
  • Donna col Drappo Giallo, (Woman with Yellow Drape) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.
  • Bagnanti, (Bathers) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.
  • Sul Tappeto Giallo, (The Yellow Carpet) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.
  • Ragazza Sul Letto, (Girl On Bed) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.
  • Nudo,(Naked) 1968.
  • Figura Giacente, (Lying Figure) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.
  • Donna Accovacciata, (Woman Squatting) 1968. Private Collection[28]
  • Beauty Salon, (Beauty Salon) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.
  • Donna e Macchina, (Woman and Machine) 1968.
  • Donna e Frutta, (Woman and Fruit) 1968.
  • Natura Morta, (Still life) 1968.
  • Pupazza, (Puppet) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.
  • Melanzane, (Eggplant) 1968.
  • Il Foglio Bianco, (The white paper) 1968, Oil e Collage su Tela.
  • Scena di Caccia, (Hunting Scenes)1968.
  • Toro al Mattatoio, (Toro at Slaughterhouse) 1968.
  • La Monta, (The Mount) 1968.
  • Piccolo Toro n.1, (Small Toro No.1) 1968.
  • Piccolo Toro n.2, (Little Bull No .2) 1968.
  • La grande Bestia, (The Great Beast) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.[29]
  • Paesaggio, (Landscape) 1968. Oil e Collage su Tela.

Late 1960s and early 1970s

  • Senza titolo, 1973 (Untitled, 1973) Acrilico su tela, 127x127[30]
  • New York, 1973, Oil Acrylic and Gesso, Grids, Square Pencil Lines. White on White. 50" x 50"[31]
  • New York, 1973 #2 Oil, acrylic and gesso, three squares, pencil on canvas. White on White. 50" X 50"
  • Untitled, 1976, Acrylic on Canvas, 48" X 60"
  • "Untitled", 1977, 48" x 59".
  • Untitled, 1977, Acrylic on Canvas, 35 1/2"X 50"
  • "Untitled", 1977, 48"x 59".
  • Untitled or (New York), 1977, Acrylic on Canvas, 25" x 70".
  • "Untitled", 1977, Acrylic/Pencil on Canvas 30"x 30"
  • "Untitled", 1978, 14"x 13.3/4"
  • Untitled', 1978, 1,27 x 1,02 m.[32]
  • Labyrinthus II, 1978, 52"x 68" Oil on Acryic on Canvas.
  • "Untitled", 1979, 49"x 40", Oil on Acrylic on Canvas.[33]
  • Fragments of a Paradox, 1979, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 57" x 48".
  • Untitled, 1979, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 48"x 40".
  • Janus Two Headed, 1979.
  • Spectrum at 90o, 1979, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 49"x 40".[34]
  • Construction of Three Alternatives, 1979, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 57" x 48".[35]

1980s and afterward

  • Untitled, 1986, Oil on canvas, 36" x 60".[36]
  • Inquietudine Geometria, 1987, Oil on Canvas, 52" x 47".

See also


  1. ^ "Mino Argento" presentazione di Marcello Venturoli Roma, 24 maggio -15 giugno 1968. From Biblioteca Di Archeologia E Storia Dell'Arte.
  2. ^ John Gruen "Renoir, Bailey, Argento, Whinnie, MacCoy & Solomon. The SoHo Weekly News, 1974 p. 18
  3. ^ Ellen Lubell, "Group show" Art Magazine, p.11 October 1975
  4. ^ "Mino Argento" by Noel Frackman (Arts Mgazine. P.19 December 1977)
  5. ^ Michael Florescu. "Mino Argento" Arts Magazine V.52 p. 13 November 1977)
  6. ^ "Mino Argento" by Nina Ffrench-Frazier (ARTnews. p.261,262 November, 1977)
  7. ^ "Mino Argento" by Michael Florescu (Arts Magazine. v.54 p.26 February 1980)
  8. ^ Mino Argento's...He specializes in geometric shapes. by Cathy Curtis. Los Angeles Times newspaper, Part VI/ Friday, January 22, 1988 P.16.
  9. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1988-01-22/entertainment/ca-25065_1_geometric-shapes
  10. ^ "Forty Years of Italian art" by Margaret Betz. Art News, P.174 February,1979 (Nardin Gallery New York.)
  11. ^ From Catalog exhibition. (14) 7 artistes americains, 7 artistes europeens 2-10 Septembre Galeria Doree, Deauville, France 1978
  12. ^ Angelo Candolini Mayor of Udine. (Arte americana contemporanea. Catalogo a cura di Elettra Quargnal, Autore. Volpi Orlandini Marisa. Fagagna(UD), 1980. Mostra Udinese, Set.-Nov. 1980 testo Ital.- Ingl.
  13. ^ Arte americana contemporanea: Udine, Sala Ajace, 20 settembre-16 novembre 1980 : catalogo stituto per l'Enciclopedia del Friuli Venezia Giulia, 1980 - Art - 172 pages (Introduzione di Marisa Volpi Orlandini)
  14. ^ From: Henry Allen Moe Papers(Mss. B. M722), Guggenheim Foundation, at the American Philosophical Society. Communication from Livingston-Learmonth Gallery, New York City.
  15. ^ Ellen Lubell."Group Show" Art Magazine, p.11 October 1975
  16. ^ Book: Ruth Vollmer 1961-1978 Thinking The Line, Nadja Rottner and Peter Weibel, editors. P.220, ISBN 978-3-7757-1786-1
  17. ^ a b The Archives of American Art, Smithsonian, Betty Parsons Gallery Papers, Reel 4087-4089: Exhibition Records, Reel 4108: Artists Files, last names A-B.
  18. ^ Untitled. 1978, (1,27 x 1,02.m). Exhibition Catalog: Casino de Deauville hall et Galerie Doree, 1978.
  19. ^ "7 Artistes Americains, 7 Artistes Europeans". Exhibition Catalog: Casino de Deauville hall et Galerie Doree, 2-10 Septembre, 1978.
  20. ^ Book: Ruth Vollmer 1961-1978 Thinking The Line, Nadja Rottner and Peter Weibel, editors. P.220, ISBN 978-3-7757-1786-1
  21. ^ Margaret Betz. "Forty Years of Italian Art" Art news, p. 174, February, 1979
  22. ^ Archives of American Art. Betty Parsons Gallery Records: General Exhibition Files: Group Exhibition Price Lists, 1980-1983 (Box 19, Folder 10.
  23. ^ Archives of America Art. Betty Parsons Galllery: General Exhibition Files: Group Exhibition Price Lists, 1980-1983 (Box 19, Folder 12.
  24. ^ http://www.aaa.si.edu/collectionsonline/parsbett/container307526.htm
  25. ^ Media Release: December 22, 1987 April Sgro-Riddle Gallery Los Angeles, CA
  26. ^ http://www.aaa.si.edu/collectionsonline/parsbett/container307836.htm
  27. ^ Marcello Venturoli "Mino Argento" (Catalogo Bolaffi D'arte Moderna. p.20 p.56, 1970)
  28. ^ "Mino Argento" Presentazione di Marcello Venturoli, Roma, 24 Maggio-15 Giugno 1968 Galleria Astrolabio Arte-Roma
  29. ^ Estratto dalla presentazione fatta da Marcello Venturoli per la personale del pittore Mino Argento, tunuta alla Galleria Astrolabio nel giugno 1968:
  30. ^ Civici musei e gallerie di storia e arte (Group Exhibition) "Arte Americana Contemporanea". Sep-Nov, 1980
  31. ^ Livingstone-Learmonth Gallery, New York, 1974 (Mino Argento first exhibition)
  32. ^ "14" 7 Artistes Americains - 7 Artistes Europeens, Exhibition Casino de Deauville hall et Galerie Doree. 2-10 Septembre 1978
  33. ^ (Group Show) Small Room. Betty Parsons Gallery New York. June 2–20, 1981. Box 19, Folder 58 N.12 http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/container/viewer/Group-Exhibition-Price-Lists--307494
  34. ^ Group Show december 18. 1979 to January, 1980 Betty Parsons Gallery New York.Box 19, Folder 58 N.1,4,7,10 http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/container/viewer/Group-Exhibition-Price-Lists--307494
  35. ^ Arts Magazine Nov, 1979 V.54 N.3 P.61 "Argento" Betty Parsons Gallery
  36. ^ Art News, May 1987. V.86 N.5 P.28. J.P. Natkin Gallery New York "Mino Argento" exhibition May 14- June 13, 1987.

Additional Reference

Hall, Lee (1991). Betty Parsons: artist, dealer, collector. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated. ISBN 0-8109-3712-3 From cover: Betty Parsons at her gallery, 1979. Work by artists she represent. Painting by Mino Argento, Ruth Vollmer wooden sculpture. (Among others). Photograph by Lisl Steiner. Ruth Vollmer 1961-1978 Thinking The Line, Nadja Rottner and Peter Weibel, editors. p. 220, ISBN 978-3-7757-1786-1

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