Biography

Between new Typography and Advertising Architecture

1927 was a crucial year for Depero. In fact, in that year were concentrated some important achievements. First of all, the famous Depero futurista 1913-1927, otherwise known as a bolted book, a book-object conceived as a sort of self-celebration of almost three decades of artistic activity in Futurism, furnished with an original binding, created by the futurist friend, and editor of the volume, Fedele Azari: there are not glue and thread to hold it together, but rather two large bolts that pierce the whole volume. And the content of the work is certainly not less interesting than its external presentation. The layout is extremely imaginative, with letters of various formats, words and phrases that flow in various directions: horizontally, vertically, diagonally, and even in a right angle. The text is printed on various types of paper: thin, coarse, white and in various colors. Often the texts take various forms instead of being packaged as usual: so we have texts composed as geometric figures, in circular or square or triangular form; or in alphabetical forms like the presentation of Marinetti which is composed in such a way as to form the huge writing  “Depero”.

1927 was a crucial year for Depero. In fact, in that year were concentrated some important achievements. First of all, the famous Depero futurista 1913-1927, otherwise known as a bolted book, a book-object conceived as a sort of self-celebration of almost three decades of artistic activity in Futurism, furnished with an original binding, created by the futurist friend, and editor of the volume, Fedele Azari: there are not glue and thread to hold it together, but rather two large bolts that pierce the whole volume. And the content of the work is certainly not less interesting than its external presentation. The layout is extremely imaginative, with letters of various formats, words and phrases that flow in various directions: horizontally, vertically, diagonally, and even in a right angle. The text is printed on various types of paper: thin, coarse, white and in various colors. Often the texts take various forms instead of being packaged as usual: so we have texts composed as geometric figures, in circular or square or triangular form; or in alphabetical forms like the presentation of Marinetti which is composed in such a way as to form the huge writing  “Depero”.

In short, an important step forward and a decisive renewal of the typographic means which is, in this way, invested with new aesthetic values. A work that earned Depero more than an excellent appreciation, for example, by Schwitters who did not fail to exalt the revolutionary qualities of that authentic first book-object. However, the book was not only a typographic exercise, as it contained considerable theoretical contributions that pointed out, clarified and planned the multifaceted activity of the artist from Rovereto, with paintings (W the machine and the steel style, The new fantastic, Psychological portrait, Architecture of light) and sculpture-architecture (Plastic glories-Advertising architecture-Manifesto to industrialists, Typographic architecture and Plastic in motion).
These theoretical texts were fully integrated into the debate on Futurist architecture that had its origins in the utopian and futuristic vision of an aerial city projected into the sky, as it was outlined by Antonio Sant’Elia in 1914.

A vision where the technological element strongly influenced the typology of the buildings, connected to each other by a system of horizontal interconnections on several levels (a system that today has become very familiar to us thanks to science fiction novels and films). And yet Umberto Boccioni was interested in architecture, albeit on a theoretical level and his formulations were even more detailed where he specified that even future architecture, like many technological machines, should have been “shaped” to adhere to the needs of the world, thus creating  a new morphogenetic aesthetic. Depero himself, on his turn, on the occasion of his Roman personal exhibition in 1916, also theorized architecture, but his was, once again and despite his great theoretical effort, an utopian vision, a vision that stretched out into the furthest future, and therefore difficult to be applied. In order to be able to satisfy its plastic-constructive impulses, during the Twenties Depero found himself to confront with the so-called “ephemeral architecture”, that of the setting of rooms and premises, that of the exhibition pavilions where he finally succeeded in giving substance to his advertising plastic formulations.

In short, an important step forward and a decisive renewal of the typographic means which is, in this way, invested with new aesthetic values. A work that earned Depero more than an excellent appreciation, for example, by Schwitters who did not fail to exalt the revolutionary qualities of that authentic first book-object. However, the book was not only a typographic exercise, as it contained considerable theoretical contributions that pointed out, clarified and planned the multifaceted activity of the artist from Rovereto, with paintings (W the machine and the steel style, The new fantastic, Psychological portrait, Architecture of light) and sculpture-architecture (Plastic glories-Advertising architecture-Manifesto to industrialists, Typographic architecture and Plastic in motion).
These theoretical texts were fully integrated into the debate on Futurist architecture that had its origins in the utopian and futuristic vision of an aerial city projected into the sky, as it was outlined by Antonio Sant’Elia in 1914.

A vision where the technological element strongly influenced the typology of the buildings, connected to each other by a system of horizontal interconnections on several levels (a system that today has become very familiar to us thanks to science fiction novels and films). And yet Umberto Boccioni was interested in architecture, albeit on a theoretical level and his formulations were even more detailed where he specified that even future architecture, like many technological machines, should have been “shaped” to adhere to the needs of the world, thus creating  a new morphogenetic aesthetic. Depero himself, on his turn, on the occasion of his Roman personal exhibition in 1916, also theorized architecture, but his was, once again and despite his great theoretical effort, an utopian vision, a vision that stretched out into the furthest future, and therefore difficult to be applied. In order to be able to satisfy its plastic-constructive impulses, during the Twenties Depero found himself to confront with the so-called “ephemeral architecture”, that of the setting of rooms and premises, that of the exhibition pavilions where he finally succeeded in giving substance to his advertising plastic formulations.

Hence projects and achievements of advertising pavilions, such as the one designed for the Presbitero Pencils, and the typographic one, the Book Pavilion, realized at the III Biennial of Decorative Arts held in Monza in 1927, a perfect example of typographic architecture. Commissioned by the publishing houses Bestetti and Tumminelli and by the Treves Brothers, it was built according to the criterion that the shape of these exhibition pavilions should be determined by the objects they contain and for which they are built. So, for the promotion of books, imprinted with typefaces, what better shapes than huge, huge, typographical forms? Certainly, immersed in the panorama of baroque, rococo and art-nouveau pavilions that dotted the fairs of the time, Depero’s pavilion must have looked like … another planet. In this sense, Depero made a substantial contribution to the new architecture. And it will not be out of place to remember that, as a happy coincidence, the “Group 7”, which also marked the beginning of Rationalist architecture, presented itself for the first time at that same exhibition.

Hence projects and achievements of advertising pavilions, such as the one designed for the Presbitero Pencils, and the typographic one, the Book Pavilion, realized at the III Biennial of Decorative Arts held in Monza in 1927, a perfect example of typographic architecture. Commissioned by the publishing houses Bestetti and Tumminelli and by the Treves Brothers, it was built according to the criterion that the shape of these exhibition pavilions should be determined by the objects they contain and for which they are built. So, for the promotion of books, imprinted with typefaces, what better shapes than huge, huge, typographical forms? Certainly, immersed in the panorama of baroque, rococo and art-nouveau pavilions that dotted the fairs of the time, Depero’s pavilion must have looked like … another planet. In this sense, Depero made a substantial contribution to the new architecture. And it will not be out of place to remember that, as a happy coincidence, the “Group 7”, which also marked the beginning of Rationalist architecture, presented itself for the first time at that same exhibition.

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