Ernesto Tatafiore

Galerie Harald Behm

Ernesto Tatafiore’s figures greet us elegantly with head, not hat, in hand. For instance, there’s Louis XVI: he inclines charmingly toward an audience outside the drawing, which is sarcastically entitled Luigi I’ultimo (Louis the last, 1981). This title reminds us of the drama of the French Revolution, with its protagonists Danton and Robespierre and its victim Louis XVI, the latter a key theme in his work. The headless Louis XVI is an emblem for death, which, as a border crossing, signifies for Tatafiore first and foremost a threshold to the new, specifically the departure from absolute monarchy to the birth of a democracy shouldered by the bourgeoisie. On a more metaphoric level, the figure of Louis XVI stands for the effort, following intellectual work, to free oneself from the control of thehead—i.e., the superego—and penetrate the unconscious in painting.

Autoritratto eroico (Heroic

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the March 1987 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.