Issue n. 08
April 15, 2001
~~~ ARLECCHINO NEWSLETTER
~~~ A free bi-weekly newsletter of 260 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 http://www.studiosoft.it
~~~ Marco Piazzalunga, Publisher
~~~ Vol. 3, issue #08, April 15, 2001
IN THIS ISSUE
New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)
1) The Return of Marilyn, the Reincarnation of Warhol
by Suzy Menkes
2) La Fenice's troubled history
by Alex Webb
New Topics on Italian style (2)
1) All the World's a Stage!
by Reagan Connell
2) Prada Enters a New Frontier of Retailing
by Susan Emerling
New Topics on Italian handicraft works of art (2)
1) 52nd International Competition of Contemporary Ceramics
by Ceramics Online
2) Italian stress texture & movement in jewelry
by International Jeweler
New Topics on Italian/European antique & collectibles (2)
1) 18th Century Jewelry
by Tara Maginnis
2) Art Deco: Clarice Cliff
by BBC Online
-----====(* FINE ARTS IN ITALY & EUROPE *)====-----
Subject: The Return of Marilyn, the Reincarnation of Warhol
PARIS, April 3, 2001 - Forty years after Andy Warhol printed his Brillo pad ads on dresses
and made "Fragile, handle with care" into a fabric pattern, Pop art is back in
fashion. And not just at the Pompidou Center in Paris, where "Les Annees Pop"
(until June 18) explores the era from 1956 to 1968, when the elitism of fine art was
challenged by the cheery consumerist culture that invaded everything from architecture to
"Pop art is not pretentious. It relates to the cartoon of life - the only art and
fashion movement that is not too intellectual," Karl Lagerfeld said.
He was referring to his latest Chanel collection of dresses splattered with a jumble of
vivid letters on a black ground, and T-shirts printed with Coco Chanel and the famous No.
5 fragrance as iconic images ą la Warhol.
Jean Charles de Castelbajac, who says he has been fascinated with Pop art since his
adolescence, called his icons "monstres sacres" and included an image of Warhol
himself on dresses that had the graphic, cartoon quality of the early Pop years. On June
11, a group of Castelbajac's Pop art dresses from the 1970s and '80s - featuring images of
Peter Pan, Marilyn Monroe and Coca-Cola - will be sold at the Drouot-Montaigne auction
house in Paris.
The exhibition defines Pop art thus: "popular, ephemeral, consumer-led, cheap and in
series." Jean-Jacques Aillagon, president of the Pompidou Center, has emphasized the
all-embracing quality of the movement and includes fashion - especially the space-age
modernism of Pierre Cardin and Andre Courreges - among the 300 art objects. Significantly,
the show is sponsored by Gucci Group and Yves Saint Laurent, whose creative director, Tom
Ford, hosted the opening party and expressed his fascination with a period when the
frontiers of noble and popular art broke down.
Fashion's interest in optical illusion goes back to the beginning of the 20th century,
when the Italian futurist Giacomo Balla invented what he described as "color
rhythms." In 1911, Sonia Delaunay started playing with optical effects, using the
notion that because clothes moved with the body, they should be enhanced visually by
kinetic patterns creating light, motion and space.
The original Pop art fashion movement was both political, in that it challenged the
domination of couture and bourgeois status dressing (just as the ready-to-wear revolution
was marching forward), and an artistic reaction to abstract art and design, with the
satirical and ironic use of advertising and of representational everyday objects.
Although high fashion is never cheap and accessible to all - any more than Warhol's own
fashion creations were - there is a sense that fashion designers want to get back to
something simpler and more popular than the angst-ridden artsy styles or the monastic
minimalism of the recent past.
Fashion has, of course, taken previous inspirations from 1960s Pop. In 1990, Gianni
Versace dedicated a collection to Warhol icons, especially Marilyn Monroe. This seemed
particularly apposite in the supermodel era when Richard Avedon's image of Linda
Evangelista in a Marilyn dress became iconic of that time. In the grungy 1990s, the
Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck challenged the status quo by sending out
collections inspired by comic strips and optical computer effects. They now look
Subject: La Fenice's troubled history
VENICE, Italy, April 9, 2001 - Venice's La Fenice opera house, which was burned down in
1996, is no nearer being rebuilt - despite the successful conviction of two electricians
Enrico Carella and Massimi-Liano Marchetti were sentenced to seven and six years
respectively for the arson.
The prosecution had also requested a nine-month prison sentence for Massimo Cacciari, the
mayor at the time of the fire, for alleged negligence - but he and seven other people were
It is the latest twist in a plot as complex, and perhaps as tragic as any of the operas
which graced the hall in its 200-year-history.
The recent declaration by the current mayor Paolo Costa that La Fenice will be open in the
first half of 2003 will be taken with a pinch of salt by those who have been following the
story of the restoration over the last five years.
2001 - Only days ago Mayor Costa halted restoration work because the contractor Holzmann
Romagnoli was taking so long. He is once more offering the work out for tender. Romagnoli
had been involved in a series of wrangles about deadlines and payments, having asked for a
further 30bn Lira (£10m) to finish the work and for penalty payments for lateness to be
waived. The contractor said his employees had to put in extra hours adapting the work of
the previous contractor, Impreligo. Holzmann Romagnoli had won the contract from Impreligo
following a successful legal challenge.
2000 - In August 2000, the projected date for completion of the restoration work slipped
from 1 October 2001 to "some time in 2002".
1999 - In April of 1999 the Italian authorities finally laid formal charges against the
electricians, the mayor and seven others; the electricians had been remanded in prison on
suspicion of arson since May 1997.
1998 - In August 1998 a charge of negligence against Mayor Cacciari was made in a report
by the Venice deputy prosecutor, who said he had to bear "overall
responsibility" for the "very serious shortcomings in the running of the
theatre, which contributed culpably to its destruction".
1997 - In 1997, a year after the disaster, Mayor Cacciari said the building would be
rebuilt by 2000, although fund-raising had already fallen behind schedule.
1996 - In June 1996, five months after the fire, Venetian experts concluded that the fire
had been started deliberately, prompting Mayor Cacciari to say, "I cannot imagine who
could have done such a thing". Workers had started clearing rubble at the site in May
and officials then declared the building would be open "in 1999". In February
1996, days after the fire, the decision was taken to rebuild the opera house exactly as it
was, though there were disagreements as to whether this meant a restoration to the 1792 or
the 1836 design. On 31 January, with the opera house shell still smouldering, Mayor
Cacciari promised La Fenice would be re-opened "within two years" - in other
words, during 1998. The building had burnt down on the night of 29 January.
The Venice fire brigade found themselves hampered by the city's narrow streets and the
draining of two nearby canals which limited water supplies.
-------=======(* ITALIAN STYLE *)=======-------
Subject: All the World's a Stage!
VERONA, Italy, April 5, 2001 - Imagine that it's twilight on a warm summer evening. Below
us, the citizens of the city stream across a colorful bridge called Ponte Pietra, ready
for an evening of entertainment. The audience quiets as music begins. The soft notes flow
over us as the sun sets over the beautiful city of Verona. In the rows below us, patrons
in colorful clothes converse, snacking on grapes and bread and the dark rich wine from the
surrounding valleys. We all wait for a famous poet to enter, whose voice and words will
cause our emotions to soar.
This lovely scene could have occurred last year, or it could have gone on 2,000 years ago.
Such is the ageless quality of Verona and the spirits that have inspired the minds of
poets and artists for two millennia.
Catullus was a native of Verona and, after the city became a Roman colony in 89 B.C., he
was favored by the citizens and by Caeser himself. Despite his youth and his tendency
toward poems that were rather lascivious, his works were famous throughout the empire and
have been translated with fascination through the centuries since.
But then, Verona has long been an inspiration to the most creative of our artistic
forebears. Painters and writers adored the area. In the early 1300s, Cangrande della
Scala, a member of the city's most powerful family, shielded Dante during his long exile
from Florence. Dante repaid this respect by dedicating the third canticle of The Divine
Comedy, called Paradiso, to his protector.
Of course, most of us came to know Verona in a most intimate way thanks to one William
Shakespeare. The bard loved northern Italy and, ultimately, more than a dozen of his plays
were set on the streets and in the grand homes along the Adige. But, it was the
star-crossed lovers that captivated us, that made us cry real tears as they fell upon each
other in that final tragic scene.
Shakespeare built his play from stories of real tragedies that plagued the city a thousand
years ago when vendettas and feuds seemed a part of every family's existence.
Even though the tale is a clever bit of fiction, its words have drawn visitors to Verona
for hundreds of years, turned it into an obligatory stop on the grand tour of the
continent, made it a site of passage for the romantics among us.
Of course, there is the Arena, the centerpiece of urban Verona. Not quite as large as the
Colosseum in Rome, it is much more functional. Its 25,000 spectator seats are available
for events that range from sports to grand opera.
For a wonderful evening, make a reservation at one of the restaurants along the Piazza
Brą. This lovely cityscape lies in the shadow of the Arena. After dinner, as the sun sets
and the promenade becomes a sea of people, you'll need only a few steps to reach the Arena
and a most memorable evening.
This is Verona. It hasn't the perfect setting of Venice or the historical wonders of Rome.
But, if you're traveling in northern Italy or planning a journey to Venice, it is a
treasure that should not be missed.
Subject: Prada Enters a New Frontier of Retailing
MILAN, Italy, April 14, 2001 - The 70-year-old, family-owned leather-goods company that
launched itself to the forefront of international fashion consciousness a decade ago with
a must-have black nylon backpack, has big plans to change the face of shopping.
To do this, Prada has commissioned two of the world's top architectural design firms,
back-to-back winners of the prestigious Pritzker Prize, Rem Koolhaas and his
Rotterdam-based studio, OMA/AMO, and the Swiss team of Jacques Herzog & Pierre de
Meuron to "assist in the creation of a Prada universe" that will include four
new flagship stores in Beverly Hills, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.
Referred to as "epicenters," these mega-boutiques are designed to energize the
Prada brand by securing its position on the cutting edge of fashion. The stores are
conceived to be social laboratories that encourage interaction and exploration rather than
mere consumption. Shoppers will become "researchers, students, patients, museum
goers" in an environment that borrows elements of the theater, trading floor, museum
and the street. In this new universe, luxury is defined by rough edges, intelligence and
The New York store, referred to as the Prada Guggenheim because it occupies the Guggenheim
Museum's former downtown location, routes researchers/shoppers through the
23,000-square-foot space. Customers enter down a wide flight of stairs that double as a
shoe gallery during shopping hours, and a small, indoor amphitheater after-hours when a
cantilevered stage can be lowered into the space for performances.
The 21,000-square-foot Beverly Hills store on Rodeo Drive, set to open next January in an
expanded version of its current location, uses a set of elliptically shaped, wading
pool-like vitrines to draw the shopper under a large overhang and into the store where a
pyramid of tiger-striped wood stairs faces out to the street. Intended as a (rather
treacherous) place to try on shoes, the steps also evoke a university quad where students
gather to smoke cigarettes, drink coffee and plan the revolution while watching the world
go by. Lateral spaces route the visitor around the central staircase and into a
silver-lined tunnel that runs beneath it, or onto a mezzanine that allows the shopper to
peer over the glass railing to the activity below.
The 44,000-square-foot San Francisco store will be in a nine-story tower with a perforated
one-inch stainless steel facade over a glass entry and bisected halfway up by a glass
midriff as if the building was wearing a bikini. The facade is backed by plastic foam that
will allow Ben-Day dots of light to illuminate the sheer facade at night. The floor scheme
is based on series of free forms that create a varied geometric template, which routes
visitors through a maze of inconsistent and unpredictable spaces varying in tone from the
chaotic to the contemplative.
Herzog & de Meuron create a totally different environment for the 21,000-square-foot
Tokyo store, slated to open in 2002. A 1:1 scale section of the facade shows large bubbles
of diamond-shaped transparent glass puffing out from the diagonals of the I-beam trusses.
Photographs of the models show light filtering in through the transparent facade to create
a luminescent interior space. Inside, fiberglass display cases glow brightly from the
strands of white and colored fiber-optic lights embedded in their interior, creating a
radiant ambience of intense and diffuse light sources.
------=====(* ITALIAN HANDICRAFT WORKS OF ART *)=====------
Subject: 52nd International Competition of Contemporary Ceramics
FAENZA, Italy, April 12, 2001 - The 52nd edition of the International Competition of
Contemporary Artistic Ceramics is going to be held in Faenza from May to December 2001.
The Competition aims at encouraging research, the renewal of techniques, materials, shapes
and expressive strategies. The International Competition of Contemporary Artistic Ceramics
is open to individual artists and to groups, without age limits. The participation can be
organised into groups, by Ministries, Cultural bodies, Category Associations and others.
The International Museums of Ceramics of Faenza is promoting the initiative within the
International Ceramics Events in Faenza. Each competitor can put forward a maximum of
three works. The works can be made with any ceramic technique. The works must be owned by
The application, written in the relevant form, must be delivered within 10th June 2000 to:
52° Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica dArte
Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche
Via Campidori, 2
48018 Faenza (RA) - Italy
with the artists CV, and possibly with critical dossiers and slides of the works
that the artist wishes to put forward. The possible publication of the artists CV in
the Competition catalogue does not imply that the International Museum of Ceramics in
Faenza has any responsibility. The artist takes all the responsibility. Three slides must
be enclosed in the application. Their format must be 24x36 mm, on 5x5cm frames without
glass for each of the works that the artist intends to put forward, photographed from
different angles on a neutral background, with the description as required by the
application form. You must not send the works, but only the slides.
The Secretarys office is situated in:
Il Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche
Via Campidori, 2
48018 Faenza (RA) - Italy
Tel. +39 546-21240 Fax. +39 546-20125;27141
Subject: Italian stress texture & movement in jewelry
MILAN, Italy, April 10, 2001 - Always at the cutting edge of trends in jewelry design,
Italian manufacturers have zeroed in on two important directions for the spring season:
texture and movement. With a blend of sculptured links, hand-etched details and bold
finishes, goldsmiths are betting that stylish women will be looking for jewelry that
follows the trends from ready-to-wear, namely simple embellished designs and bolder
The color trend, introduced last fall continues, with vivid gemstones in bold settings,
lots of yellow gold and touches of colored enamel and inlaid gemstones.
Spotted at the September Orogemma fair were several examples of these new looks, led by
bolder bracelets, larger rings and meshy designs studded with colored gemstones.
-----===(* ITALIAN/EUROPEAN ANTIQUE & COLLECTIBLES *)===-----
Subject: 18th Century Jewelry
LONDON, April 12, 2001 - The 18th Century was a period of great change for the
manufacturers of jewelry, for at the turn of the century, a Venetian Lapidary named
Vincenzo Peruzzi invented the 56 faceted brilliant cut for stones which is still used
today. It replace the duller 16 faceted Mazarin cut of the previous century and launched
diamonds to the forefront of jewelry design for the next 100 years. Metal work receded
into the background almost completely and metals were used exclusively as inconspicuous
back settings for diamonds.
The most popular shapes for jewels were bows and floral designs.
Stylized bows were used on brooches, necklaces, earrings, and rings.
Diamonds were used to the almost total exclusion of other gems until the 1750s when
color in jewelry enjoyed a revival. To meet the increased demand for white stones in the
first half of the century, paste, rock crystal, markasite, and cut steel were employed
with increasing sophistication. These alternatives to diamonds were soon produced with
such good quality that it was entirely respectable for royalty to wear them. Cut steel was
especially popular because of its practical wearability for ordinary day use on shoe
buckles, knee buckles, and buttons.
The 18th Century also introduced several new forms of jewelry, the most typical being the
corsage, a kind of diamond stomacher. It was in use for court dress for the whole middle
part of the century.
Another innovation, the aigrette, consisted of a spray of diamonds and was usually worn
over the right ear on the hair.
However, the most interesting development was the chatelaine, a piece of everyday jewelry
worn by both men and women. Suspended form the waist, it was used to carry watches, seals,
needle-cases, keys, scissors, and penknives.
After the French Revolution, neoclassical motifs became popular in jewelry all over
Europe, and the style-setting French in their republican mood shifted into Roman revival
Subject: Art Deco: Clarice Cliff
LONDON, April 3, 2001 - The 1920s and 30s saw an explosion of new ideas in art and design
throughout Europe. The romantic era of Art Nouveau, with all its elaborate curves and
naturalistic images of flowers, leaves, fruit and nymphs, came to an abrupt end as the
bold style of Art Deco swung into action. Many British artists shared the exuberant mood.
And for collectors today, the work of one designer, in particular, is becoming
increasingly popular as the epitome of the Art Deco years... Clarice Cliff.
A glimpse inside Clarice's bedroom alone would have revealed her unusual tastes: "The
walls and woodwork were orange and yellow, the ceiling metallic gold, the wardrobe and
chest of drawers orange with black relief and the iron bedsteads were encased in orange
coloured leatherette. A nightmare to most people but described by Clarice as
"bizarre", according to her younger sister Ethel.
This same zest for bright colours and bold designs can be seen now in her pottery.
Anything from teapots, vases, plates and sugar sifters have a vast array of different
designs: geometric patterns, landscapes, and flowers, all in dazzling daubs of blue,
yellow, orange, crimson, scarlet, and purple. It's easy to take such bright colours for
granted today, especially after the explosion of art and design of the 60s and 70s. But in
Clarice's time these were considered very daring, and it would be many years before her
work was fully appreciated.
Growing up in Tunstall, Staffordshire, Clarice had shown an interest in free-hand painting
from her early teens. But it was not until after she joined the pottery of A.J. Wilkinson
Limited in 1918, that she was able fully to develop her own peculiar style.
Clarice was influenced by many of the new ideas of the time - the bold outlines of artists
like Matisse, the abstract geometric shapes of cubism, and the stark contrasting colours
of the German Bauhaus movement. It was the age of jazz, emancipation for women, and a time
when industrial innovation meant that mass production was fast becoming a reality.
In 1928, working together with a team of women in her own studio cum workshop, full of
blank bowls, vases, and jugs, Clarice created the first "Bizarre" collection by
drawing diamond shapes on the pottery and filling with bright colours. To everyone's
surprise, the designs were an instant success, and sold quickly. The name "Hand
Painted Bizarre" by Clarice Cliff was soon attached to the whole range and, by the
end of 1929, her designs dominated the entire production of the Newport factory. She was
described by the Pottery Gazette in 1931 as "a pioneer of advanced thought, blazing a
trail of shapes with decidedly original decorations".
After the Second World War, however, the popularity of Clarice Cliff designs fell - the
bright colours no longer fitted the mood of post-war austerity. And the number of skilled
workers able to execute hand painting fell as new technology, particularly the
introduction of printed transfer designs, took over. Undaunted, Clarice continued to
promote her ware as Artistic Director at the pottery and was rewarded with seeing some of
her work become collectors pieces in the 1960s. But it was not until several years after
her death in 1972, that Art Deco was rediscovered by the larger antique-buying community,
and her enormous influence on British pottery truly acknowledged.
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