Mimmo Rotella was born in Catanzaro in October 1918.
After his artistic training in Naples, he moved to Rome in 1946, where he exhibited his first abstract works at the Galleria dei Chiurazzi in 1951.
In March 1952, he inaugurated his first personal show at the Rockhill Nelson Gallery in Kansas City. While back in Rome in later in 1952, he underwent a crucial change in stylistic terms, producing his first décollages, exhibited at the critic Emilio Villa in 1954. At the same time, he realized some retro d’affiches with the back of posters taken from the street: these works were characterized by the presence of materials such as glues, rust and fragments of wood. The décollages were marked by an aim to break through the constraints of easel painting to portray a city through its own information hoardings.
In the 1960s, he was one of the leading exponents of Nouveau Réalisme, a movement led by Pierre Restany, which included, amongst others, Yves Klein. At the end of the 1960s, in New York, he established friendship with Andy Warhol and the protagonists of Pop Art.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Rotella always tried out new techniques: from the plastiforme (posters translated into Plexiglas sculptures) to the blanks, in which some parts of posters are covered with coloured tracing paper; and the sovrapitture, in which Rotella applies paint to the large décollages on metal sheeting.
Rotella continued unceasingly with his work until his death in Milan on 8th January, 2006.