Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 3 Issue n. 08
April 15, 2001

~~~     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
~~~     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 clothes.
"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 visionary.

Suzy Menkes


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 for arson.
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 acquitted.
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.

Alex Webb

-------=======(* 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.

Reagan Connell


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 generosity.
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.

Susan Emerling

------=====(* 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 artist.
The application, written in the relevant form, must be delivered within 10th June 2000 to:
52° Concorso Internazionale della Ceramica d’Arte
Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche
Via Campidori, 2
48018 Faenza (RA) - Italy
with the artist’s CV, and possibly with critical dossiers and slides of the works that the artist wishes to put forward. The possible publication of the artist’s 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 Secretary’s 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

Ceramics Online


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 silhouettes.
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.

International Jeweler


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 1750’s 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 styles.

Tara Maginnis


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.

BBC Online

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