29 Nov ‘PRATICAL QUOTES’ FORNASETTI
Today, we’ll talk about an exhibition that just ended in Rome.
The exhibition, “Practical Quotes: Fornasetti in Palazzo Altemps,” showed 800 pieces designed by Piero Fornasetti, one of the most brilliant Italian designers of the 20th century.
His talent was, to put it mildly, eclectic and inspired him to a truly limitless production of furniture, design objects, paintings, and more.
We could say that his overflowing creativity led him to design all that is designable: umbrella stands, lamps, mirrors, bookends, chandeliers, wallpapers, armchairs, trays, dishes… and the list goes on!
You would think with such an impressively large production, there would be some failures, some false starts. But not so.
Fornasetti’s genius never weakened, never flagged, from the fantastic furniture he made with Gio Ponti and his collaborations with artists like De Chirico, Lucio Fontana, Aligi Sassu, and Massimo Campigli, all the way to a simple ashtray.
His world was one of suns and moons, human faces and animals, tarots and knights, coats of arms, cameos, libraries, aquariums and Greek statues, and it never ceased to amaze.
In this world, we can’t but get lost, at once dreamlike and absolutely lucid, made of Jerusalems, mountebanks, houses of cards, and architecture.
His style, always easy to recognize among the crowd, takes you into fascinating, unknown worlds.
This is what happens to us when we go this wonderful exhibition, put on in one of the world’s most enchanting places, Palazzo Altemps, which holds within many works of world cultural heritage (with one exception I’ll explain later…).
There’s an important point to note here: here we have at last a successful pairing of ancient and modern/contemporary art.
There’s a perfect fusion between the masterpieces of Greek and Roman art and the eclecticism of Fornasetti, who always had some classicism in his blood.
We all know the sorry fashion of putting contemporary art in the past’s prestigious places, like churches, whether deconsecrated or not, museums, and palaces. They are desperately trying to find a dimension for pieces of art that are apparently not enough in themselves.
The most grating aspect is the commentary and reviews that go with such exhibitions. I can only dream, one day, to read even one such review that doesn’t use the word “dialogue.”
The only dialogue that I imagine is the one between the curators, the artists, the gallery owners, and the sponsors.
No, wait, actually, I can imagine another dialogue, the one that starts at sundown, like in the movie, “A Night at the Museum.”
I imagine what the masterpieces of the past would say to the new arrivals…
Earlier I mentioned a little exception in Palazzo Altemps’ extraordinary collection.
Well, on display here is the spectacular Ludovisi Throne, its marble shining; but I am so faithful to Federico Zeri, the critic who maintained it is a fake, I keep on looking at and reconsidering those prominent breasts, those crossed legs.