Biography

The Twenties, between Mechanical Art, Textiles and Advertising

CUBIST AND MECHANICAL VOLUMES

Depero’s painting between the end of the Ten’s and the early Twenties became an area of ​​”memory fixation” of his theatrical experiences, rather than an autonomous experimentation. And since he had created puppets for the theatre, their painted transposition became a sort of  gym for plastic drives. Depero, in fact, already with a luster of advance on the Manifesto of Mechanical Art, by Paladini and Pannaggi (1922) since 1917, had been working on  an elaboration of his puppet, reduced to its essential, almost cubist volumes, a sort of stylization if not just coldly mechanical, certainly mechanical-figurative, as Bruno Passamani (1) pointed out. These researches led first to the creation of the painting  Balli Plastici (Plastic Ballets) and then found in the canvases a further design gap where the robotization or the volumetric decomposition was carried to its extreme consequences. That is to say the painting of Depero while exasperating the “plasticity”, in its extreme “static nature” remains however at  the antipodes of  “dynamism”.

CUBIST AND MECHANICAL VOLUMES

Depero’s painting between the end of the Ten’s and the early Twenties became an area of ​​”memory fixation” of his theatrical experiences, rather than an autonomous experimentation. And since he had created puppets for the theatre, their painted transposition became a sort of  gym for plastic drives. Depero, in fact, already with a luster of advance on the Manifesto of Mechanical Art, by Paladini and Pannaggi (1922) since 1917, had been working on  an elaboration of his puppet, reduced to its essential, almost cubist volumes, a sort of stylization if not just coldly mechanical, certainly mechanical-figurative, as Bruno Passamani (1) pointed out. These researches led first to the creation of the painting  Balli Plastici (Plastic Ballets) and then found in the canvases a further design gap where the robotization or the volumetric decomposition was carried to its extreme consequences. That is to say the painting of Depero while exasperating the “plasticity”, in its extreme “static nature” remains however at  the antipodes of  “dynamism”.

mechanical art and mechanics of speed

The 1920s for the avant-gardes, but especially for Futurism, celebrated the triumph of the Machine. In France, was published  for some time “L’Esprit nouveau”, where Ozenfant and Le Corbusier pursued their purist idea of ​​a pictorial machinery. When, therefore, Depero wrote his “self-presentation” in 1921, the Manifesto of Futurist Mechanical Art was in  preparation and came out only he following year. To these ideas he showed remarkable convergences in his painting of the Twenties, which assumed those metallic and smooth tones, precisely mechanical. Besides, as for “mechanization”, Depero (as mentioned) had been working conceptually on this subject since 1918. In the pictorial field we can find some symbols of Depero’s adhesion to the new “mechanical dynamic course“ in works such  as Ciclista multiplicato (Multiplied cyclist), of 1922, and Il motociclista (The biker), of 1923, and in some ways also Gara ippica tra le nuvole (Horse race in the clouds), of 1924.

June 2nd, 1922: the Futurist Mechanical Ball by Pannaggi and Paladini was staged. Depero, on his turn, set up the famous Anihccam 3000  or  Danza delle locomotive (Anihccam 3000 or Dance of the locomotive) as part of the tour of the Futurist Theater of 1924, where Anihccam stands for “machine” bed upside down. The actors-dancers moved and danced wearing  a diving-costume, which made them similar to puffing locomotives but somehow Depero humanized his machines, giving them feelings: the locomotives, in fact, both in love with the station master, fought one against the other …

However, dated 1926, there was the Depero’s mechanical masterpiece, that painting titled La Rissa o Discussione del 3000 (The Brawl or The Argument of 3000). It represented a sort of ballet of heavy rhythms, a row of robot-men with outstretched arms, brandished chairs flying in the air, wine and food upset in turmoil, and that was surely a transposition of reality on the level of a grotesque mechanical rusticism.

mechanical art and mechanics of speed

The 1920s for the avant-gardes, but especially for Futurism, celebrated the triumph of the Machine. In France, was published  for some time “L’Esprit nouveau”, where Ozenfant and Le Corbusier pursued their purist idea of ​​a pictorial machinery. When, therefore, Depero wrote his “self-presentation” in 1921, the Manifesto of Futurist Mechanical Art was in  preparation and came out only he following year. To these ideas he showed remarkable convergences in his painting of the Twenties, which assumed those metallic and smooth tones, precisely mechanical. Besides, as for “mechanization”, Depero (as mentioned) had been working conceptually on this subject since 1918. In the pictorial field we can find some symbols of Depero’s adhesion to the new “mechanical dynamic course“ in works such  as Ciclista multiplicato (Multiplied cyclist), of 1922, and Il motociclista (The biker), of 1923, and in some ways also Gara ippica tra le nuvole (Horse race in the clouds), of 1924.

June 2nd, 1922: the Futurist Mechanical Ball by Pannaggi and Paladini was staged. Depero, on his turn, set up the famous Anihccam 3000  or  Danza delle locomotive (Anihccam 3000 or Dance of the locomotive) as part of the tour of the Futurist Theater of 1924, where Anihccam stands for “machine” bed upside down. The actors-dancers moved and danced wearing  a diving-costume, which made them similar to puffing locomotives but somehow Depero humanized his machines, giving them feelings: the locomotives, in fact, both in love with the station master, fought one against the other …

However, dated 1926, there was the Depero’s mechanical masterpiece, that painting titled La Rissa o Discussione del 3000 (The Brawl or The Argument of 3000). It represented a sort of ballet of heavy rhythms, a row of robot-men with outstretched arms, brandished chairs flying in the air, wine and food upset in turmoil, and that was surely a transposition of reality on the level of a grotesque mechanical rusticism.

Later, in the bolted book released in 1927 (but summing up his  activity and theory since 1913), he published the manifesto that celebrated the Machine and the Steel Style and said: “I love engines, I love locomotives, they inspire me with unbreakable optimism… », but in the meantime, however, it did not completely abdicate his domain to the metal and combined it as much as possible with natural elements, as in  Alto paesaggio d’acciaio (Steel landscape in the high mountains), a plowing in the mountains painted in the cold monochrome of the steel tones.  During the same year, in New York, there was the apotheosis of the Mechanical Era with the monumental Machine Age Exhibition, whose catalogue was appropriately illustrated by a mechanical cover by Leger. Then, in 1927, at Bragaglia’s was staged the pessimist L’Angoscia delle macchine (The distress of the machines) by Ruggero Vasari, while the decade ended on the poster (1928) promoted by Azari for a machine protection company that reads: “The machine has enriched our life … it will definitely eliminate poverty and therefore the class struggle “.

MAGIC OF A VITREOUS DREAM

Returning to our chronology, and taking a step back, in 1924 Depero painted a work titled Spazialità lunari or Convegno in uno smeraldo (Lunar Spatiality or Meeting inside an emerald ). The subject represents three robot men sitting at the table inside a crystal house. Ordering element: the light that shapes with its architecture, into linear, solidified directions, the whole environment. The work is almost monochromatic, there is a sort of lunar atmospere, in shades of blue, as if the subjects were seen through a crystal. This work, together with La Ricamatrice (The Embroideress), painted two years before, is another example of that architecture of light theorized by Depero. In  Prismi lunari (Lunar Prisms) this modelling action of light is considerably reduced as now the key element is the alienating factor of color. Color, in other words, in this lunar, nocturnal declination, somehow envelops everything as if in a vision of crystalline ice,  and  at the same time suggests a sort of temporal suspension and a contextual uprooting, as precisely in Prismi lunari (painted many years later, in 1932) almost suspended on the black-pitch of the Cosmos. “From the constructive and environmental brightness – Depero wrote – emanates a magical sense of vitreous dream” (2).

Later, in the bolted book released in 1927 (but summing up his  activity and theory since 1913), he published the manifesto that celebrated the Machine and the Steel Style and said: “I love engines, I love locomotives, they inspire me with unbreakable optimism… », but in the meantime, however, it did not completely abdicate his domain to the metal and combined it as much as possible with natural elements, as in  Alto paesaggio d’acciaio (Steel landscape in the high mountains), a plowing in the mountains painted in the cold monochrome of the steel tones.  During the same year, in New York, there was the apotheosis of the Mechanical Era with the monumental Machine Age Exhibition, whose catalogue was appropriately illustrated by a mechanical cover by Leger. Then, in 1927, at Bragaglia’s was staged the pessimist L’Angoscia delle macchine (The distress of the machines) by Ruggero Vasari, while the decade ended on the poster (1928) promoted by Azari for a machine protection company that reads: “The machine has enriched our life … it will definitely eliminate poverty and therefore the class struggle “.

MAGIC OF A VITREOUS DREAM

Returning to our chronology, and taking a step back, in 1924 Depero painted a work titled Spazialità lunari or Convegno in uno smeraldo (Lunar Spatiality or Meeting inside an emerald ). The subject represents three robot men sitting at the table inside a crystal house. Ordering element: the light that shapes with its architecture, into linear, solidified directions, the whole environment. The work is almost monochromatic, there is a sort of lunar atmospere, in shades of blue, as if the subjects were seen through a crystal. This work, together with La Ricamatrice (The Embroideress), painted two years before, is another example of that architecture of light theorized by Depero. In  Prismi lunari (Lunar Prisms) this modelling action of light is considerably reduced as now the key element is the alienating factor of color. Color, in other words, in this lunar, nocturnal declination, somehow envelops everything as if in a vision of crystalline ice,  and  at the same time suggests a sort of temporal suspension and a contextual uprooting, as precisely in Prismi lunari (painted many years later, in 1932) almost suspended on the black-pitch of the Cosmos. “From the constructive and environmental brightness – Depero wrote – emanates a magical sense of vitreous dream” (2).

ARCHITECTURE OF LIGHT

The divisionists directed their linear beams towards the light sources: the sun, the moon, the lamps … This starting point of arbitrary perspective direction opened  all the possibilities of new perspectives that were deformations of the conventional geometric one. So I arrived at creating entire constructions suggested to me by the various and intertwined directions of light …

Here we are then to the reconstructed landscape, crystallized by the sun … The light rays appear as bridges and roads boldly directed towards the sky. The houses and bell towers are earthquake-stricken in all the slopes … From the lakes gilded inverted pyramids. The characters and shiny objects are armored with crystalline spikes like new glass porcupines.

The sun gives life, the sun gives colors and now the sun gives a new architecture to Art “(3).

ART DECO OR FUTURISM?

In 1925  was held in Paris the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which definitely consecrated the so-called Art Deco style (also called “1925 Style”), actually a jumble of trends that found common ground in the aesthetic application to current materials in the house. Depero, still in 1924 had painted the dynamic  Gara ippica fra le nubi (Horse race in the clouds), precisely on very art deco tones, but when in 1925 Balla, Depero and Prampolini, were in Paris with their works in spot colors, they felt perfectly at ease, and indeed from their point of view everything at the Expo was so much futurist that they would declare to Italian newspapers  “Paris is invaded by Futurism! …” (4). In reality everything could seem futurist in their eyes, for the simple fact that “the new international taste had followed its path” (5). In other words, those futurist styles practiced by Balla and Depero  since 1914/15 (synthetic, dynamic, spot-colored shapes, with electrical combinations) and which were then considered iconoclasts, now recurred at more latitudes, passed off as an updated decorative fashion under the big umbrella of the so-called Modernism.

ARCHITECTURE OF LIGHT

The divisionists directed their linear beams towards the light sources: the sun, the moon, the lamps … This starting point of arbitrary perspective direction opened  all the possibilities of new perspectives that were deformations of the conventional geometric one. So I arrived at creating entire constructions suggested to me by the various and intertwined directions of light …

Here we are then to the reconstructed landscape, crystallized by the sun … The light rays appear as bridges and roads boldly directed towards the sky. The houses and bell towers are earthquake-stricken in all the slopes … From the lakes gilded inverted pyramids. The characters and shiny objects are armored with crystalline spikes like new glass porcupines.

The sun gives life, the sun gives colors and now the sun gives a new architecture to Art “(3).

ART DECO OR FUTURISM?

In 1925  was held in Paris the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which definitely consecrated the so-called Art Deco style (also called “1925 Style”), actually a jumble of trends that found common ground in the aesthetic application to current materials in the house. Depero, still in 1924 had painted the dynamic  Gara ippica fra le nubi (Horse race in the clouds), precisely on very art deco tones, but when in 1925 Balla, Depero and Prampolini, were in Paris with their works in spot colors, they felt perfectly at ease, and indeed from their point of view everything at the Expo was so much futurist that they would declare to Italian newspapers  “Paris is invaded by Futurism! …” (4). In reality everything could seem futurist in their eyes, for the simple fact that “the new international taste had followed its path” (5). In other words, those futurist styles practiced by Balla and Depero  since 1914/15 (synthetic, dynamic, spot-colored shapes, with electrical combinations) and which were then considered iconoclasts, now recurred at more latitudes, passed off as an updated decorative fashion under the big umbrella of the so-called Modernism.

Depero exhibited a large quantity of fabrics, including two large tapestries such as  Velocità moderna (Modern speed) and Serrada, and he also brought many wooden constructions, toys and knick-knacks, as well as various examples of his colorful advertising plates made with collages of colored papers. While Vittorio Pica repeatedly declared that the Futurists had “saved Italy”, Margherita Sarfatti motivated her thought more deeply by stating that “Italy had been at the head of the reaction against the heavy weight of tradition … maintaining this top position, along with the Soviet pavilion, thanks to the futurists »(6).

The Parisian show was of great importance for Depero, both for the fairly good sales success, and for the  many international contacts that arose in  him  the idea of ​​trying the American card. In December, after a solo show in the foyer of the Teatro des Champs Elysées, he returned to Italy and, in February 1926 he participated (certainly not inexplicably considering his “previous” digressions from Futurism as  for example La Casa del Mago – The Magician’s house) to the 1st Exhibition of the Italian Twentieth-Century held in Milan, and then to the travelling exhibition of Italian Art that touched New York, Washington and Boston (where he exhibited Treno partorito dal sole – Train born from the sun, Gara ippica fra le nubi –Horse race in the clouds  e Ciclista veloce – Fast cyclist ). He was also present at the International Theater Exhibition, curated by Friedrich Kiesler, also in New York, where he exhibited his projects for Stravinskij and those for  Balli Plastici (Plastic ballets). Finally, again in 1926, he participated in the XV Venice Biennale where, in addition to great works of painting (such as  Discussione del 3000 – Argument of 3000 e Radioincendio – Radiofire) and colored fabrics (Velocità modernaModern speed e Guerra-Festa War-Party) he also exhibited the famous Squisito al selz (Exquisite drink and soda) for Campari, summa of its advertising art, enriched by an inexhaustible playful vein.

Depero exhibited a large quantity of fabrics, including two large tapestries such as  Velocità moderna (Modern speed) and Serrada, and he also brought many wooden constructions, toys and knick-knacks, as well as various examples of his colorful advertising plates made with collages of colored papers. While Vittorio Pica repeatedly declared that the Futurists had “saved Italy”, Margherita Sarfatti motivated her thought more deeply by stating that “Italy had been at the head of the reaction against the heavy weight of tradition … maintaining this top position, along with the Soviet pavilion, thanks to the futurists »(6).

The Parisian show was of great importance for Depero, both for the fairly good sales success, and for the  many international contacts that arose in  him  the idea of ​​trying the American card. In December, after a solo show in the foyer of the Teatro des Champs Elysées, he returned to Italy and, in February 1926 he participated (certainly not inexplicably considering his “previous” digressions from Futurism as  for example La Casa del Mago – The Magician’s house) to the 1st Exhibition of the Italian Twentieth-Century held in Milan, and then to the travelling exhibition of Italian Art that touched New York, Washington and Boston (where he exhibited Treno partorito dal sole – Train born from the sun, Gara ippica fra le nubi –Horse race in the clouds  e Ciclista veloce – Fast cyclist ). He was also present at the International Theater Exhibition, curated by Friedrich Kiesler, also in New York, where he exhibited his projects for Stravinskij and those for  Balli Plastici (Plastic ballets). Finally, again in 1926, he participated in the XV Venice Biennale where, in addition to great works of painting (such as  Discussione del 3000 – Argument of 3000 e Radioincendio – Radiofire) and colored fabrics (Velocità modernaModern speed e Guerra-Festa War-Party) he also exhibited the famous Squisito al selz (Exquisite drink and soda) for Campari, summa of its advertising art, enriched by an inexhaustible playful vein.

NATURAL FLOWS AND AESTHETICS OF MODERNITY

In the mid-Twenties the strong mechanical component in the art of Depero was slowly diminishing to open up to the irrepressible revival of a marked sensitivity to natural flows that had already fascinated the artist over the Tens (do think to Onomalingua – Onomalanguage or Astrazioni animali Animal abstractions). In this sense, 1924 proved to be an emblematic year and it was lived  among opposite trends as we can see in works like Anihccam, danza meccanica dell’anno 3000  (Anihccam mechanical dance of the year 3000) and Treno partorito dal sole (Train born from the sun) which, on the other hand, try with strength an almost pantheistic mediation (if not a fusion) between the Machine (ie Modernity) and Nature. The second half of the Twenties opened therefore to the sign of this renewed agreement so that the artist accomplished a certain number of works where typological elements, either stylistic or thematic, of mechanical-technological inspiration cohabited with elements of pure bucolic, if not folkloric naturalism. An example is Aratura-Paesaggio al tornio (Plowing-Landscape on lathe) dated 1926 where the evident mechanism that governs form (man, ox, trees) is mitigated by a sun that envelops the landscape with its solidified rays (architecture of light).

Another example is  La fienagione (Haymaking) of 1926, where the ancient ritual of hay harvesting seems to be carried out by peasants-robots. Everything, however, converges and bends towards the Sun, the heart and engine of Life. Then there is the forementioned Paesaggio di acciaio – Steel landscape  (1927), in which Nature and  landscape live on mechanical and stainless reflections, however without losing anything of the typical disenchanted deperian gaiety.

Last, qualified, example is Il Gondoliere (Gondolier), also known as  Venetian Beetle, 1927, first of a small series of paintings on the same subject. A very special work because it shows the gondolier and its gondola fused together in steel, as a further adhesion to the mechanical muse: and not by chance in the same year Depero published his famous bolted book where he wrote “W the Machine and style of Steel “… But, this gondola and its gondolier are however immersed in an aura of lagoon light, green, as in a swamp … in short, they are immersed in the embrace of Nature.

A two-faced Depero, therefore, the artist of the second half of the Twenties, with a very peculiar and unique style in the futurist panorama: his own.

NATURAL FLOWS AND AESTHETICS OF MODERNITY

In the mid-Twenties the strong mechanical component in the art of Depero was slowly diminishing to open up to the irrepressible revival of a marked sensitivity to natural flows that had already fascinated the artist over the Tens (do think to Onomalingua – Onomalanguage or Astrazioni animali Animal abstractions). In this sense, 1924 proved to be an emblematic year and it was lived  among opposite trends as we can see in works like Anihccam, danza meccanica dell’anno 3000  (Anihccam mechanical dance of the year 3000) and Treno partorito dal sole (Train born from the sun) which, on the other hand, try with strength an almost pantheistic mediation (if not a fusion) between the Machine (ie Modernity) and Nature. The second half of the Twenties opened therefore to the sign of this renewed agreement so that the artist accomplished a certain number of works where typological elements, either stylistic or thematic, of mechanical-technological inspiration cohabited with elements of pure bucolic, if not folkloric naturalism. An example is Aratura-Paesaggio al tornio (Plowing-Landscape on lathe) dated 1926 where the evident mechanism that governs form (man, ox, trees) is mitigated by a sun that envelops the landscape with its solidified rays (architecture of light).

Another example is  La fienagione (Haymaking) of 1926, where the ancient ritual of hay harvesting seems to be carried out by peasants-robots. Everything, however, converges and bends towards the Sun, the heart and engine of Life. Then there is the forementioned Paesaggio di acciaio – Steel landscape  (1927), in which Nature and  landscape live on mechanical and stainless reflections, however without losing anything of the typical disenchanted deperian gaiety.

Last, qualified, example is Il Gondoliere (Gondolier), also known as  Venetian Beetle, 1927, first of a small series of paintings on the same subject. A very special work because it shows the gondolier and its gondola fused together in steel, as a further adhesion to the mechanical muse: and not by chance in the same year Depero published his famous bolted book where he wrote “W the Machine and style of Steel “… But, this gondola and its gondolier are however immersed in an aura of lagoon light, green, as in a swamp … in short, they are immersed in the embrace of Nature.

A two-faced Depero, therefore, the artist of the second half of the Twenties, with a very peculiar and unique style in the futurist panorama: his own.

OVERCOMING THE PAINTED ARTWORK

It was therefore on this basic joy that Depero’s work was carried out over the course of the decade, with  intensity, a chromatic and compositional violence that has certainly enriched and dynamized the panorama of applied arts in Italy, not only in stylistic terms but also in terms of experimenting with materials, as in the case of the mosaic tapestry in fabrics, a happy technical innovation and at the same time the most typical example of the encounter between art and craft, precisely at the artisan level. With a warning: at the time, Depero’s tapestries had also a proactive function as a strong “break,” not easily understandable, mainly by the critics (and just a few still take it up today), in its theoretical and avant-garde component. In other words, with experimentation on non-pictorial materials, Depero also wanted to mean that the age of the painting-picture was approaching its conclusion. It was no coincidence that he named his so-called cloth tapestries as tapestry-artworks.

The first humble laboratory, which lasted from October 1919 to August 1920 was in Via Vicenza in Rovereto. Room 4 x 4 meters, low, a few easels, a worker, my wife, me and a little bird in a cage (a siskin) which always celebrated us … From this work came out many cushions and the two great Notari tapestries. The apartment was then too small. I looked for a larger one … I found the desired and magnificent environment: living room and 5 immense rooms, bright, high, healthy, with Venetian beam ceilings. I remained spellbound and as in an anxious and dejavu dream I saw many and many hands in perspective. A crowd bent on the frames, all silent and amazed by a fantastic aura that filled the atmosphere. Parrots, lyre birds and histrions that made them perform masterful flights and dances, gardens and pools with phosphorescent fishes, exotic gymnasts and wonderful carnivals of the future. I felt the weight of the cases full of cushions and  tapestries that departed for every direction, assigned to the greatest centers of the world … In such environment I decided to live »(7).

OVERCOMING THE PAINTED ARTWORK

It was therefore on this basic joy that Depero’s work was carried out over the course of the decade, with  intensity, a chromatic and compositional violence that has certainly enriched and dynamized the panorama of applied arts in Italy, not only in stylistic terms but also in terms of experimenting with materials, as in the case of the mosaic tapestry in fabrics, a happy technical innovation and at the same time the most typical example of the encounter between art and craft, precisely at the artisan level. With a warning: at the time, Depero’s tapestries had also a proactive function as a strong “break,” not easily understandable, mainly by the critics (and just a few still take it up today), in its theoretical and avant-garde component. In other words, with experimentation on non-pictorial materials, Depero also wanted to mean that the age of the painting-picture was approaching its conclusion. It was no coincidence that he named his so-called cloth tapestries as tapestry-artworks.

The first humble laboratory, which lasted from October 1919 to August 1920 was in Via Vicenza in Rovereto. Room 4 x 4 meters, low, a few easels, a worker, my wife, me and a little bird in a cage (a siskin) which always celebrated us … From this work came out many cushions and the two great Notari tapestries. The apartment was then too small. I looked for a larger one … I found the desired and magnificent environment: living room and 5 immense rooms, bright, high, healthy, with Venetian beam ceilings. I remained spellbound and as in an anxious and dejavu dream I saw many and many hands in perspective. A crowd bent on the frames, all silent and amazed by a fantastic aura that filled the atmosphere. Parrots, lyre birds and histrions that made them perform masterful flights and dances, gardens and pools with phosphorescent fishes, exotic gymnasts and wonderful carnivals of the future. I felt the weight of the cases full of cushions and  tapestries that departed for every direction, assigned to the greatest centers of the world … In such environment I decided to live »(7).

ADVERTISING, ADVERTISING, ADVERTISING …

The years from 1924 to 1928 were the most intense as for advertising activity. Depero worked a lot for the most different companies such as Verzocchi (refractory bricks), Richard Ginori (ceramics), San Pellegrino (mineral waters) Alberti (Liqueur Strega), Bianchi (bicycles), Linoleum (floors), Pathé (cinema), Schering ( pharmaceuticals), Presbitero (colored pencils), Vido (sweets with almonds), Banfi (soaps), Rim (digestives), Rimmel (cosmetics) and many others.

But it was above all with the Milanese company, producer of the famous Bitter and Cordial Campari, that Depero entertained a close association from the second half of the Twenties to the beginning of the Thirties (8). For Campari Depero created an enormous amount of sketches, inks, collages of colored papers, projects for plastic models, of which only a small part was  later accomplished (that is to say above all the black and white drawings published in large circulation newspapers). For Campari, moreover, Depero realized Squisito al Selz (Exquisite drink and soda), and the artist, exposing it to the 15th Venice Biennale in 1926, defined it “advertising art-work, not a poster” (9).

But beyond the graphic creations the commitment of the futurist from Rovereto is also for the product  of design, as in the case of the famous Bitter bottle, as well as in the editorial design field, with the publication, in 1931, of  Numero Unico Futurista per Campari (Unique Campari Futurist Number), a collection of graphic and poetic creations of an advertising nature, together with the launch of Manifesto dell’arte pubblicitaria futurista (Futurist Advertising Art Manifesto). Finally, a whole series of items such as the Campari lamp, the Campari tray and the plastic puppets that adorned the first vending machines designed by Campari around 1933, and, again, the typographic stand projects on the theme of Campari word-image.

ADVERTISING, ADVERTISING, ADVERTISING …

The years from 1924 to 1928 were the most intense as for advertising activity. Depero worked a lot for the most different companies such as Verzocchi (refractory bricks), Richard Ginori (ceramics), San Pellegrino (mineral waters) Alberti (Liqueur Strega), Bianchi (bicycles), Linoleum (floors), Pathé (cinema), Schering ( pharmaceuticals), Presbitero (colored pencils), Vido (sweets with almonds), Banfi (soaps), Rim (digestives), Rimmel (cosmetics) and many others.

But it was above all with the Milanese company, producer of the famous Bitter and Cordial Campari, that Depero entertained a close association from the second half of the Twenties to the beginning of the Thirties (8). For Campari Depero created an enormous amount of sketches, inks, collages of colored papers, projects for plastic models, of which only a small part was  later accomplished (that is to say above all the black and white drawings published in large circulation newspapers). For Campari, moreover, Depero realized Squisito al Selz (Exquisite drink and soda), and the artist, exposing it to the 15th Venice Biennale in 1926, defined it “advertising art-work, not a poster” (9).

But beyond the graphic creations the commitment of the futurist from Rovereto is also for the product  of design, as in the case of the famous Bitter bottle, as well as in the editorial design field, with the publication, in 1931, of  Numero Unico Futurista per Campari (Unique Campari Futurist Number), a collection of graphic and poetic creations of an advertising nature, together with the launch of Manifesto dell’arte pubblicitaria futurista ( Futurist Advertising Art Manifesto). Finally, a whole series of items such as the Campari lamp, the Campari tray and the plastic puppets that adorned the first vending machines designed by Campari around 1933, and, again, the typographic stand projects on the theme of Campari word-image.

Notes

  1. Bruno Passamani, Splendore d’acciaio: Depero e la Macchina, in: Fortunato Depero (monografia), Rovereto, 1981.
  2. Fortunato Depero, Prismi lunari, in: Catalogo 94ª Mostra Depero, Trento, 1953.
  3. Fortunato Depero, Architettura della luce, in: Depero futurista 1913-1927 (libro bullonato), Milano, 1927
  4. P.L. Fortunati, Futuristi italiani all’Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Decorativa di Parigi, in: «L’Impero», Roma, 21 giugno 1925
  5. Bruno Passamani, L’officina del mago, in: Fortunato Depero (monografia), Rovereto, 1981
  6. Margherita Sarfatti, in catalogo L’Italie à l’Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Parigi, 1925
  7. Fortunato Depero, Due anni di vita della casa d’arte Depero, in: «Rovente futurista», nn. 7-8, Parma, 19 maggio 1923
  8. On this topic see: Maurizio Scudiero, Depero per Campari, Milano, 1989.
  9. Right in this way says the caption accompanying the image of the painting in: Depero futurista 1913-1927 (libro bullonato), Milano, 1927

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