Bruno Alfieri, Leo Castelli and Robert Rauschenberg: Metro and the Introduction of Rauschenberg into Italy

Graham Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The first part of this article traces connections between Bruno Alfieri (1927–2008), a Milanese writer, editor and publisher, and Leo Castelli (1907–1999), the legendary New York art dealer who, from the 1950s until his death, specialized in avant-garde art in the United States. Alfieri contacted Castelli in 1960 to request information on artists that Castelli handled, with a view to featuring them in an American issue of Zodiac, an international architectural review. This contact led in turn to their collaborating on an issue of Metro – an art review edited by Alfieri – that featured Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008), one of the leading artists in Castelli's gallery. Among the articles on Rauschenberg is one by the avant-garde composer John Cage (1907–1999), which reproduces a drawing that Castelli and Rauschenberg had given to Alfieri. The second part of the article studies this drawing, and concludes that it represents Rauschenberg’s studio in Lower Manhattan and depicts in it an imaginary retrospective comprising works that the artist considered fundamental to his identity. Among these are Rauschenberg's four-panel White Painting from 1951 and details from Satellite, Odalisk and Monogram, three Combines – works that combine aspects of painting and sculpture – made between 1955 and 1959. Running through the article are observations on how the Alfieri-Castelli partnership enhanced Rauschenberg's standing as an international artist. Indeed, Alfieri and Castelli's promotion of Rauschenberg was probably a factor contributing to his triumph at the 1964 Venice Biennale, at which he won the Grand Prize for Painting – the first American to do so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-331
Number of pages37
JournalVisual Resources
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2017


  • Art Market
  • Autobiography
  • Bruno Alfieri (1927–2008)
  • Giuseppe Panza di Biumo (1923–2010)
  • Jasper Johns (b. 1930)
  • John Cage (1907–1999)
  • Leo Castelli (1907–1999)
  • Metro (periodical)
  • Pricing
  • Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008)
  • Self-portraiture
  • Zodiac (periodical)


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