Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 2 Issue n. 05
December 15, 2000

~~~      A free bi-weekly newsletter of 187 subscribers
~~~      on the discussion of topics related to
~~~      the made-in-Italy products, to the Italian way of life
~~~      and more generally to the Italian style.
~~~      supported by Studiosoft at
~~~      Marco Piazzalunga, Publisher
~~~      Vol. 2, issue #05, December 15, 2000

Dear friends,

also in this issue I want to suggest some really interesting cues related to the made-in-Italy style.
An analysis on how one needs to approach art with a view to financial investment, a nice article on the recent relaunch in the USA of the Vespa motor-scooter, a charming itinerary within the Chianti region and some interesting indications on how to use collectable items to make a precious
and smart Christmas present.
However, let us not forget the other articles provided, you cannot miss them!

Your tireless moderator,

Marco Piazzalunga


New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)

1) Rome's Giant Emmanuel Monument Open
by Associated Press

2) Approaching Art from an Investment Perspective
by Susan Buchenholz

New Topics on Italian style (2)

1) Vespa Motor Scooter Makes Comeback
by Associated Press

2) The Chianti Region
by DolceVita

New Topics on Italian handicraft works of art (2)

1) Manufacturers Break Traditions, Enter New Upscale Markets
by International Jeweler

2) A legend in rock, Frank Acitelli
by Marge Colborn (Detroit News)

New Topics on Italian/European antique & collectibles (2)

1) Collectibles Make the Perfect Gift
by Bob Brooke

2) The Jewels of Lalique
by Manuela Cardinetti


-----====(* FINE ARTS IN ITALY & EUROPE *)====-----

Subject: Rome's Giant Emmanuel Monument Open

ROME, Italy, December 03, 2000 - Maligned by Romans as ``the wedding cake'' and ``the typewriter'' for its overbearing presence, the mammoth marble monument to Italy's first king is poised to redeem itself.
The Victor Emmanuel Monument, which offers a stunning 360-degree view from heart of Rome, opens to the public Saturday for the first time in 30 years.
Visitors will be able to ascend 200 feet to huge portico modeled on ancient temples, climbing past sculptures representing moral virtues and huge mosaics.
From there, they will have a panoramic view of the slender pines of the Villa Borghese, the cupola of St. Peter's, the Forums, the Colosseum and the Palatine hill.
The government spent $5 million preparing the monument for its reopening.
The monument was constructed from 1885 to 1911 to commemorate the unification of Italy under King Victor Emmanuel II. It also serves as a memorial for Italy's unknown soldiers.
It will be open to the public, free of charge, between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. every Tuesdays through Sundays.

Associated Press


Subject: Approaching Art from an Investment Perspective

NEW YORK, December 02, 2000 - In this age of mass production, finding appropriate art (from an investment standpoint) can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Furthermore, even after locating an artist who's work has a great chance of holding some lasting value, one can never be too sure that the market will be ready when and if the piece is put up for resale. Is it really a shot in the dark? I think not, when the investor is thinking long term with the scope of their collection and they are collecting for their own enjoyment of the work. After all, having a single piece, which was a good purchase, can easily pay for an entire collection of original work which, your family will enjoy for generations. Firstly, and most importantly, you must have a personal attraction to the piece. It must speak to you, call you, and embrace you. If you do not love it, and it does not fascinate you, don't buy it! But if you do love it to this degree, don't pass the chance to acquire it! I have had more than a few people approach me, asking for help to identify, locate and acquire work, which they had seen years before and missed the opportunity to purchase at the time. The images were so gripping and personally relevant to them that even years later, in some cases as much as ten or twenty, they can not forget that piece of artwork. These are the sort of works to acquire in a long term collection, since, it is quite likely, that the piece will remain in your family for decades to come, providing them with a small view into the realities, which affected their history.
With thousands upon thousands of artists out there offering their work to the public, the basic things to look for can be divided between things about the artist themselves and things about the art.
Where the artist is concerned, are they educated, professional, committed, producing with concern for the longevity of their work? Do they present bodies of work which `hang together'? Have they developed their styles and techniques? Is their work getting some exposure? Where the art is concerned; is it durable? Is it trendy, or will it speak outside of a specific era or culture? Is there more investment value in one form over another? (I.e. Should I buy a painting or a print?) It can be enough to boggle the mind.
Intrinsic value, the value of an actual hand-crafted piece of artwork. In so many media this makes a difference. How much of `hands on effort' of the artist was involved in producing this particular object? What materials is it produced from and how lasting is this statement? What care does it need to preserve its beauty and value? Perhaps, the number one concern of curators today is how to preserve the ages and ages of artwork entrusted to their care. For today's art collector, maintenance of a collection needs to be considered as well when additions are contemplated. What components go into this piece? What quality the pigments, surfaces, joining, and finishes? What environment was it designed for? These are all things to consider when deciding on a purchase and things to ask about when seriously contemplating an investment purchase.

Susan Buchenholz

-------=======(* ITALIAN STYLE *)=======-------

Subject: Vespa Motor Scooter Makes Comeback

LOS ANGELES, November 15, 2000 - With an emphasis on glamour, the Vespa motor scooter is being reintroduced in this country after a 15-year absence.
Motor scooters are ubiquitous in European cities with their clogged, narrow streets. For its United States relaunch, Piaggio, which makes Vespas and scooters under other names, is hardly emphasizing its utility.
``Vespa is not just a product, but a lifestyle,'' Stefano Rosselli, president and chief executive officer of Piaggio, said. ``The type of person we want to sell a Vespa to very unlikely would be inclined to go to a garage-type operation where you buy motorcycles, where the more greasy you are, the better you feel.''
The distinctive scooter has inspired the same kind of fervor as that other insect-inspired vehicle, the Volkswagen Beetle. Vespa is Italian for 'wasp'. And Piaggio is hoping its reintroduction produces success similar to that of redesigned Beetle several years ago.
Like the Beetle, the Vespa disappeared in the United States because its two-stroke engine could not meet stringent environmental standards, especially in California, where Vespas were top sellers. The last scooter was sold here in 1985.
The two new Vespa models to be sold in America feature four-stroke engines. They will be sold in ``boutiques'' that will also feature Vespa-branded accessories, such as matching helmets, leather bags, jackets, gloves and watches.
The first boutique opens Thursday in Sherman Oaks, with others planned next year in San Francisco, Houston, Miami, Chicago and other cities. By 2002, the company plans to have nearly 30 outlets in California, Florida, New York, Seattle and Hawaii. The scooters will also be sold over the Internet.
Piaggio expects to sell 5,000 Vespas next year and 10,000 in 2002. Those are ambitious goals considering that by Piaggio's own estimates, only 17,000 motorized scooters are sold in the United States annually. But Rosselli believes the scooter market has been underserved mainly because of Vespa's absence.
The scooters were introduced Wednesday during a glitzy, star-studded premiere at the Paramount studios in Hollywood.
'``Roman Holiday' and Audrey Hepburn on the scooter is an image we all have in our minds and we think rebuilding on that past is a good thing,'' Rosselli said. ``Therefore we felt the best place to start was Hollywood.''

Associated Press


Subject: The Chianti Region

MILAN, Italy, December 05, 2000 - It beckons with greenery, full-bodied wines and hearty cuisine! Even the Albion's rich and famous have fallen prey to the charms of this disarming region: the singer Sting, members of the British nobility and political scene (including British Prime Minister Tony Blair) have enjoyed vacations in Chianti.
Indeed the English have always been drawn to the area, and left a record of their experiences and impressions in diaries and journals, particularly those stemming from the days of the "Grand Tour", which began in the 1700's. Families of means considered an extended trip to Europe an absolute must to put a polished finish to their sons' educations. Because of its rich political and cultural heritage, Italy was especially dear to youthful visitors and the lovely surroundings of Chianti and Tuscany were particularly appealing to such personages as John Evelyn and Charles Dickens, Lady Blassington and Ruskin, Layard and Symonds. Their accounts are not, however, confined to descriptions of the landscape, but include also ample mention of the "kindness of the local people, and their hospitality in particular".
Though still quite young, these travellers were highly educated individuals from good families who were immediately able to appreciate what they saw and experienced. Indeed, their love and affection contributed greatly to the conservation of the area's appeal.
Chianti's countryside is characterized not only by its beauty, but also by its diversity; by its undulating pattern of hills and valleys, by endless rows of wine grapes hanging from their vines; the symmetrical graphic of the vineyards in stark contrast to the gentle movement of the hills.
The walls and turrets of ancient castles mark the region, perched on hilltops and precipices, and surrounded by the proud vineyards which have made the region famous (and beloved!) throughout the world.

DolceVita (Milan)

------=====(* ITALIAN HANDICRAFT WORKS OF ART *)=====------

Subject: Manufacturers Break Traditions, Enter New Upscale Markets

ROME, Italy, December 14, 2000 - Two large Italian manufacturers started off the new millennium with ventures into new territories.
Tecnigold is taking strides forward by introducing Arabesque, a new bracelet. This is a new departure for Tecnigold, which is famous for chains. This time, they have entered into the world of the finished jewelry with a bracelet which is light, fun and fashion oriented.
Fope, meanwhile, is entering into the fashion world by designing a new range of jewelry for their younger clients. This range of jewelry will change from season to season like the fashion world, with new items being added each season.
This range will be distributed within Italy from Fope’s more than 800 retailers and will be called appropriately enough Fashion.
But this does not mean that Fope will neglect their Umberto Cazzola brand, this season including freshwater pearls in pink and white, and Tahitian varieties, all in variations of the classic strand of pearls.
Always known for creating beautiful and rare objects, Victor Mayer has excelled himself by producing a very special Fabergé egg to see out the second millennium. This unique egg consists of a hinged pendant on a custom made necklace that can also be worn alone. This one off creation is made from platinum, white gold and the famous dark blue Fabergé enamel set with over 2000 diamonds totaling 35,80 carats. And the price for this unique jewel a cool US$360,000.

International Jeweler


Subject: A legend in rock, Frank Acitelli.

DETROIT, December 11, 2000 - Home is where the hearth is for Frank Acitelli. The fourth-generation stonemason designs and hand carves striking limestone fireplaces, decorating them with Celtic crosses, trefoils, fleur de lis, grapes, ivy and pithy words of wisdom.
At 70, Acitelli, a born-and-bred Detroiter whose family legacy began in Italy, also creates stone caps, columns, brackets, sculpture and furniture. But his true love is the fireplace and its mantle, surround and hearth.
"I have more work than I can handle," admits Acitelli, hunched over a makeshift Formica drawing board the size of a cookie sheet in his dust-covered studio/garage. "I work more than five days a week. I take it day by day. I enjoy it because it is physical, mental and emotional work."
Acitelli was recently the subject of an episode of Modern Masters, a weekly, half-hour series on HGTV that takes viewers into the workshops of inspiring and insightful masters of traditional crafts.
From coppersmiths to plaster artisans, floor builders to glass artists, these are men and women from across the country who are simply the best at what they do.
Although he is proud to be considered a modern master, Acitelli pooh-poohs compliments. ("People tell you whatever they think you want to hear," he claims.)
His clients include Josephine Ford, Art VanElslander, architect Don Paul Young, Michigan State University, even Geoffrey Feiger.
He does not advertise; all of his work comes from referrals. Acitelli fireplaces, which grace the finest residences from Grosse Pointe to Clinton Township to West Bloomfield, range in price from $4,000 to $22,000.
For this lanky man whose strong, elegant hands hardly resemble those of a laborer, creating a fireplace is not unlike composing a piece of music or penning a poem.
His hero is Italian-born American orchestra conductor Arturo Toscanini, who died in 1957 -- a framed poster of the conductor hangs prominently in his office -- and he relishes carving Latin phrases by Ovid or Horace into a fireplace. A favorite phrase is carpe diem, Latin for "seize the day," as opposed to placing all hope in the future.
Not bad for someone who has no formal training, no degree and is, in fact, dyslexic.
"I don't learn from books -- I learned from my father who taught me the importance of simplicity and restraint," says Acitelli, who was fascinated watching his father cut brick. "I learned to build a fireplace by watching masons."
Acitelli has two grown children, a son and daughter. Both admire his work, but neither will follow in his footsteps.
When he's not working on-site, Acitelli toils alone in his studio, listening to WJR radio for company. Because of the omnipresent dust, which casts an eerie cloud over everything (tools, mock-ups, work tables, Thermos bottles) in the studio, his radio is permanently stuck on WJR.
"I don't mind," he says of the solitary work and single station. "I have no plans to retire. What would I do all day?"

Marge Colborn (Detroit News)


Subject: Collectibles Make the Perfect Gift

LONDON, December 11, 2000 - Collecting is one of the oldest hobbies. King Tut of Egypt collected walking sticks; heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post collected Faberge originals; Franklin D. Roosevelt and King George VI of England collected stamps.
There are also coin, doll, cup, and spoon collectors. But one of the largest groups are those who collect figurines and plates, the leading forms of gift collectibles. And all these items make perfect gifts for someone who collects them.
Why do so many people collect these things? There's a basic human need to possess things that will last. All of us have a desire to own beautiful things and pass them on to our children. However, for many people this isn't possible.
It has always been the ability of the wealthy to be able to afford beautiful things. This prompted gift collectible manufacturers to devise items which the average person could afford and which, in some cases, would increase in value over time.
"While speculation was the motivation for collectible purchases in the late 1970's, most collectors today buy for the appeal of the item," says Bill Hagmayer, proprietor of the Gift Cove in Spring City, Pennsylvania.
"Collect what you like," says Lee Yeagle of Yeagle's Potpourri of Lahaska, Pennsylvania, outside New Hope. "Some people have to have every piece in a series, while others buy only a few pieces with which to decorate their homes."
Who buys the hundreds of figurines, plates, and ornamental items that cram the shelves of retail gift stores and specialty stores?
"A collector is a strange breed of person," says Hagmayer. "Some travel all over the country and collect every piece made by a certain manufacturer. Ironically, the majority of our sales are to men who give the items as gifts."
For most of the 400 members in the national association of retail collectible dealers, most find that figurines are their best sellers, according to a recent survey. Hagmayer believes that it's probably because they evoke a nostalgic response in most people.
Of all the figurines sold, Hummels are still the all-time favorite. The idea for the cute sculptural figures began over 65 years ago in Bavaria. Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel liked to draw pictures of children. Even though she decided to become a nun, her talent for art was irrepressible.
Plates are the second most popular collectible. They have taken up where magazine illustration left off. Many are reminiscent of the old Saturday Evening Post covers. While plates of all kinds have always been collected, those sold in gift shops are especially created for the collectible market.
Plates are decorated with just about any design the human mind can think of. They depict characters from fantasy anb fiction as well as adventurers, T.V. and film stars, and scenes of the past.
Royal Copenhagen has long been a favorite around holiday time. These familiar blue and white plates feature scenes from Danish life. The 1988 annual plate featured Hans Christian Anderson. The company also produces an annual procelain egg, ceramic thimble, and Christmas ornaments.
One of the most interesting plate collections is the Curator Collection. These plates show Victorian birthday parties, christenings, and holidays and are unique since they can also be used as ceramic greeting cards.
To satisfy the insatiable desire to collect, manufacturers have created an infinite variety of items. The latest is a series of hand-painted bronze miniatures based on previous Hummel and other series.
Since most of the collectors are women, collectible manufacturers have designed specific items to get men interested in collecting. Baseball cards have long been popular among boys and men and now manufacturers hope that baseball plates will achieve a similar popularity.
Collecting will always be a popular pasttime and as long as companies such as Goebel are in business, there will always be something worthwhile to collect.

Bob Brooke


Subject: The Jewels of Lalique

MILAN, Italy, December 12, 2000 - René Lalique (1860-1945) has been called the greatest artist-jeweler since the Renaissance. In the 1890s, a time when most jewelers displayed diamonds and pearls in glittering profusion, Lalique began to create subtle, painterly effects by combining opals, baroque pearls, semi-precious colored stones, glass, and enamel. He raised jewelry to the level of a fine art, using his amazing technical virtuosity to realize a very personal imagery based equally in dream and nature. Many of Lalique's jewels were unique masterpieces, some almost too eccentric to be worn. They were made for a select clientele of collectors and ladies of fashion. When these marvels were revealed to a wider public at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris, they brought Lalique fame throughout Europe and America.
Hailed as the first maker of fine jewelry to work in the Art Nouveau style, Lalique broke with past traditions and created the first truly "modern" jewels. Always an innovator, he experimented constantly with new techniques and unusual materials. Glass, in particular, captured Lalique's imagination, and he used it in his jewels. By 1910, he had turned his full attention to glass making. He revolutionized that field as well, reinventing himself for the 20th century as a designer of jewel-like glass vessels and large-scale architectural components meant for industrial production. Today the name Lalique has become synonymous with elegant artistry in glass.
A skilled draftsman, René Lalique began his career as a designer of jewels. In 1886 he set up a workshop of his own and began to fabricate jewelry for the most prestigious Parisian firms, mostly in the prevailing diamond-laden style. At the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris, jewels made in Lalique's shop were displayed in the showcases of several important jewelers.
By 1890, Lalique had become successful enough to move his workshop to larger quarters in rue Thérèse near the fashionable Avenue de l'Opéra. In that year, he also met and fell in love with Augustine-Alice Ledru, who became his muse and later his second wife. Determined to renew the art of jewelry making, he began a period of intense creative concentration and experimentation. He was introduced to the celebrated actress Sarah Bernhardt, for whom he made lavish stage jewelry and only slightly less elaborate pieces for her personal wardrobe. Designing for the stage gave Lalique an opportunity to break away from traditional forms and to work on a large scale.
As he searched for a style of his own, Lalique was guided by aspects of his personality that would shape his entire career: a taste for innovation and experiment, an exceptional talent for observation and for drawing, and a deep love and knowledge of nature that stemmed from his childhood in the country.

Manuela Cardinetti


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