Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 3 Issue n. 10
May 15, 2001

~~~      A free bi-weekly newsletter of 267 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 #10, May 15, 2001

                    IN THIS ISSUE

New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (3)

1) A journey to discover the Etruscans
     by Giovanna Melandri - Minister of Culture

2) Streetnoise: Italian Futurism 1909-1918
     by Richard Shone

3) Preview Bovisa: Milan Europe 2000
     by Giorgio Verzotti

New Topics on Italian style (1)

1) A new elegance
     by Ines Monti

New Topics on Italian handicraft works of art (2)

1) Nove, Italy, land of ceramics
     by Carlo Berengo

2) Crystal glass and Angelo Barovier
     by Julius Camon

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

1) Cookie Jar History

2) Mosaic Jewellery
     by Martyn Downer

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

Subject: A journey to discover the Etruscans

ROME, Italy, May 04, 2001 - Exotic and surrounded by a veil of mystery, because that is the way they appeared to the ancient populations, the Etruscans are still alive today in our imagination. So much so that the classic Italian novel of the second half of the Twentieth Century, "The Garden of the Finzi Contini" by Giorgio Bassani begins with a visit to the necropolis at Cerveteri.
Today we know that the Etruscan civilization was born from a complex intertwining between the ancient populations in central Italy and influences which came from the Greek world and Asia Minor. We also know that the myth of the unknown alphabet is not based on fact, and solving that "mystery" rekindles new real questions of knowledge.
The important exhibition organized by Palazzo Grassi recounts the evolution of the civilization, the love of life and the sad decline of these people. It is a magnificent collection of remains, art objects and painting, proposing an ideal voyage of discovery into the world of the Etruscans, which has its roots in vast areas of Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Latium and Campania.
What could be better than the transforming this ideal voyage into a real one? From the hills of the Maremma to the valleys of the Tuscia, from the Tirrenian coastline to the internal areas of Umbria and the Romagnolo Appennine Mountains, up to the colonies in Campania, the Etruscans left us settlements, necropolises, cities and archeological sites inserted in natural landscapes of utmost beauty.
In this folder you will find useful information to help you visit 90 places, from Ferrara to Salerno, to create your itineraries and to discover the collections housed in over 40 museums.
Our beautiful country owes its extraordinary uniqueness to the diffusion, throughout the country, of archeological areas, and places and masterpieces of art. In Italy, we do not have only Roman antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Baroque, but rather a thick stratification of historical evidence that composes the fabric of our common cultural identity.
The Ministry of Culture has paid great attention during the last few years to this magnificent intertwining of histories, cultures and different eras which is so characteristic of our country. The Ministry was concerned with recuperating the small museums and not only the big entities. Large financial resources have been devoted to archeological areas, churches and historical palazzos. Our goal is to invest in our identity, to give merit to the variety and diffusion of the cultural patrimony and be actively involved in the extraordinary beauty of our country.
It is also for this, therefore, that we thought it useful to propose, on the occasion of a great exhibition like that at Palazzo Grassi, an itinerary in the Italy of the Etruscans, suggesting the possibility of adding to an important cultural event a visit to archeological sites and museums, perhaps less known, but certainly not less precious. If there is a voyage, in fact, that demonstrates, in an eloquent manner, how much Italy is a great "open-air museum," in which one can "read" diverse histories, it is this voyage into the heart of the civilization of the Etruscans.
Therefore, I wish you Buon Viaggio to the discovery of the Etruscans and the places where they lived.

Giovanna Melandri - Minister of Culture


Subject: Streetnoise: Italian Futurism 1909-1918

HANNOVER, Germany, May 13, 2001 - The tub-thumping histrionics of Marinetti and his Italian cohort of Futurists in the years preceding World War I continue to fascinate. It seemed the last word had been said with the Venice show at the Palazzo Grassi in 1986. But the Sprengel thinks otherwise and has assembled a massive survey, curated by Norbert Nobis, focusing on the painting and sculpture of Boccioni, Severini, Balla, and others, a body of work that, alongside the manifestos and happenings, ensured a European impact for the group that strikes an anarchic note to this day. (Post-1918 developments will be pursued in a show this fall at the Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund).
04.13.01-06.24.01 Sprengel Museum, Hannover

Richard Shone


Subject: Preview Bovisa: Milan Europe 2000

MILAN, Italy, May 09, 2001 - Milan still doesn't have a museum of contemporary art, but it will in 2002 on the premises of a pair of gasoline storage facilities in the industrial zone of Bovisa. Looking toward the Museo del Presente's arrival (the new institution is to be directed by Jean-Hubert Martin), the city is revving up with a massive exhibition of contemporary European art, set in Milan's only two spaces currently devoted to contemporary art, the Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea and the Palazzo della Triennale. Eighteen curators from seventeen nations have invited 120 artists to participate. The emphasis: work specially commissioned for the occasion.
05.19.01-09.16.01 Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea and Palazzo della Triennale, Milan

Giorgio Verzotti

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

Subject: A new elegance

MILAN, Italy, May 08, 2001 - "Less is more", that was the motto of minimalism, the intellectualised fashion of the second half of the Nineties. "More is more" might be the motto of this year, with the triumph of colour, the return of the fur, precious embroidery work and over-the-top prints. In a word, it's an "Eightees Revival".
Experts reckon that this desire for luxury will not be exhausted in one season alone. It will, they say, influence fashion for a long time to come. The concept that will guide us aesthetically will be hedonism. Seeing and being seen - thatıs what will count the most. It wonıt be a question of ostentation of wealth as it was twenty years ago, but chic based on a more personal, authentic taste. In the coming months, the style we shall be seeing will not be defined by codes and standards, but rather by a creative elegance to match each single individualıs own way of being.
During the winter season, opposed trends will live side by side: hence, practicality and glamour, techno-modernism and naturalness, sexy and chic, tweed and denim. The result, according to the French Première Vision salon and the Italian Mode-In, will be a combination of simplicity and opulence.
Accessories will stand out in their pursuit of perfection. In spring-summer, women will sport Latin luxury; in the autumn, colours will stop being solar and sensory pleasure will be spontaneous and declaimed. Elegance will draw inspiration from the world of modern art, with painstaking research into materials. In jewellery, we shall be seeing a reinterpretation of classic precious stones as well as semi-precious stones with bulky forms and non-finite appearances alongside a gradual return to yellow gold, which will enjoy an increasing market success. Together, these colour trends will harmonise with white gold and stones in darker and more vibrant tones than the bright pastels that we welcomed at the start of the new Millennium.

Ines Monti

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

Subject: Nove, Italy, land of ceramics

NOVE, Italy, May 12, 2001 - Nove, Comune of Vicentino, on the river Brenta, the border for Bassano del Grappa and Marostica, famous since the seventeenth century for the production of ceramic art, has opened in the April of 1995, il Museo della Ceramica. Situated in the elegant setting of Palazzo De Fabris which was refined to accommodate the local institute of art for ceramics. The museum would like to propose how it can be a place of study for all those who want to learn about and examine further the art of ceramics. The collection, divided according to periods of time, widely documents the story of Ceramics of Veneta, novesa and Vicentina in particular from the 1700s to the present day, and other interesting objects of previous eras.
In the seventeenth century an increase in demand and the diffusion in Europe of precious Chinese porcelain, encouraged Dutch ceramicists to manifacture imitations, thereby invading the markets of the Republic of Venice. Therefore, in 1728 attempts were made to resolve the problem by stimulating local production; taxes were lowered for those who were able to produce porcelain and improve majolica. A favourable moment for local production came with Giovanni Battista Antonibon, when in April 1727 in the old house of his father in Nove, the began what was to become the most important ceramic factory in the Republic of Venice. In 1732 the Senate granted Antonibon the privelege of tax exemption for twenty years, further aiding local ceramic production. Pasquale Antonibon succeeded his father in 1738 and in 1762 was successful in an undertaking of great importance: the production of porcelain.
During the 1770s the widespread use of terraglia, (a mixture obtained in England from the end of 1725, which had a white body and subsequent low costs) led to the unforeseen competition between Italian maiolica and porcelain: once more the Antonibon factory proceeded under the management of Gio Maria Baccin who, in 1786, succeeded in formulating an imitation of the English clay.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, despite the hard political-economic crisis, a few manufacturers in Nove became prosperous through the production of terraglia: the manufacture of luxurious wares for the nobility was replaced in favour of a wider and more modest market which appreciated the new subjects and techniques, now known as "popular ceramics".
Around 1860-1865 another era known as "Artistico or Aulico or Neorococò" (Artistic-Courtly and Neorococo) was stimulated by the competition between foreign manufacturers at the various international exhibitions.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, the Institute of Art in Nove, witnessed the end of the favoured style of the nineteenth century. In fact in 1942, with the arrival of the director Andrea Parini, there was a shift towards a more modern line of production.
Merit is attributed to Parini for the new style of work which arose with a generation of artists in the area of Vicentino. This became the most renowned centre in Italy for research and contemporary art towards the development of ceramics.
There was a desire to adapt to this new era and to encourage local artists to make unique pieces.,5716,57790+1,00.html

Carlo Berengo


Subject: Crystal glass and Angelo Barovier

VENICE, Italy, May 11, 2001 - Crystal glass is a very transparent material which is achieved thanks to manganese which has a decolourising effect on Venice sodium glass. Thanks to its purity and lightness, this product was successfully put on the market and it was soon used instead of heavy stained glassware. Murano glass peak production was reached thanks to crystal glass production which became one of most lively Venetian business activities.
Murano glassware is marketed all over Europe and they spread in the Countries beyond the Alps. Angelo Barovier created crystal glass improving its production technique.
In 1457, Venetian Republic granted him the exclusive right to produce this kind of glass. Crystal glass aesthetic qualities were enhanced by its plasticity, thus achieving elaborate models.
Vases and goblets are decorated with stained glass parts which are moulded by using pliers and which are nicely in contrast with gilded and enamelled transparent glass.
Modelling gradually becomes more and more important, above all when Murano glass production distinguishes itself from that of rival industries because of growing foreign competitors, thus achieving luxury and elegant articles which are characterised by formal harmony.
Complex goblet and cup stems belong to high quality Venice glass production.
Angelo Barovier, who died in 1460, brought about many technical innovations in the field of glass production such as the introduction of crystal glass. Thanks to these innovations, Murano is famous all over the world. The article which is typical of this century glass production is certainly Barovier cup.
The enamelled bright blue glass cup, which is exposed at Murano Glass Museum, shows women procession and their bath at Love Fountain, which is a courtly theme which was very popular in the Middle Ages.
Then, the ladies on horseback are going to the fountain which seems to be taken from fourteenth century miniatures and which is decorated with bride and groom’s portraits which are contained in medallions. Enamelling and gilding Eastern techniques play a leading role and they are widely used to achieve fine Renaissance decorations. Bright blue or green glass Barovier cups are typical enamelled products.

Julius Camon


Subject: Cookie Jar History

LONDON, May 05, 2001 - Since the late 18th century, the British have been manufacturing "biscuit" jars to hold their version of what Americans call cookies. Cookie jars were not common in American kitchens, though, until 1929, the beginning of the Depression. The first ones were nothing more than glass jars fitted with screw-on metal lids. Throughout the 1930's, stoneware became the most popular material for cookie jars. These jars were commonly shaped like bean pots or cylinders and were decorated with painted leaves or flowers.
The Brush Pottery Co. of Zanesville, Ohio, which would become a leading manufacturer of cookie jars, turned out the first ceramic version a green canister with the word cookies embossed on the front. Ceramic did not become the standard cookie jar material until the early 1940's when manufacturers began creating figural jars in the shapes of fruit, vegetables, animals, and characters from nursery rhymes, comics, and cartoons.
Cheery, brightly decorated figural cookie jars proved to be so popular that dozens of potteries tried to cash in over the next 30 years. And it's these jars which Warhol amassed and loved for which collectors have developed a sweet tooth.
While thousands of ceramic cookie jars have been produced since the mid-1940's by an untold number of potteries, a handful of manufacturers were actually responsible for a majority of the jars. The following are the companies that made the greatest contribution to the development of the American cookie jar:
Nelson McCoy - Along with American Bisque, Nelson McCoy, which was founded in Roseville, Ohio, in 1910, created the cookie jars most loved by collectors today.
American Bisque - Established in 1919 in Williamstown, West Virginia, American Bisque was in business for 60 years. One of the leading producers of cookie jars, the company began making jars in 1930.
Brush Pottery - This company began business in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1907 and made cookie jars from 1946 until 1971.
Abingdon Pottery - From 1908, when it began in Abingdon, Illinois, until 1934, Abingdon Pottery was the largest manufacturer of prison toilets. By 1939 the company had turned its attention to cookie jars, producing 16 different jars before the art department was phased out in 1950.
Shawnee - Beginning in the 1940's until it closed in 1961, this Zanesville, Ohio, company produced many variations of its own cookie jars.
Red Wing - This Red Wing, Minnesota, pottery operated from 1878 to 1967, producing many distinctive jars, including the King of Tarts, chefs, monks, bunches of bananas, pears, and Dutch girls.
Metlox - This Manhattan Beach, California, company was in business from 1927 to 1989 and made high-quality jars, which are marked in a variety of ways.


Subject: Mosaic Jewellery

LONDON, May 14, 2001 - The imaginative flights of the jeweller have always been tempered by the craft that he practices; his own art often confined by the beauty and value of the materials he works. The mosaicist breaks free of these limitations and by wielding his palette of semiprecious stones and glasses approaches the limitless horizons of the artist forming a bond between the fine and applied arts.
There are two distinct forms of mosaic work: Roman mosaics or micromosaics and Florentine mosaics or pietre cure.
The Florentine mosaicists initially enjoyed the greater renown when the Optificio delle Pietre Dure was founded by Francisco 1 dei Medici in 1580. With the rich source of semiprecious stones that surrounded the city, the Florentine mosaicists would set carved pieces of chalcedony, lapis lazuli, cornelian and other hardstones into a mount of, usually, black marble to create bold, predominantly, floral images with swathes of colour sharply juxtaposed. Such work was suitable for large surfaces and initially was exclusively used to enhance the richly decorated objects created to satisfy the wealthy Florentine mercantile patrons. Later, and certainly by 1799 when Florence was occupied by the French, the Florentine mosaicist had to adapt his art to satisfy the smaller demands of the many rather than the expansive (and expensive) orders of a disappearing few, creating mosaics suitable for mounting as jewellery by local goldsmiths.
The vast majority of subjects remained floral although occasionally insects or animals were represented but the emphasis remained on the beauty of the materials rather than on the subject and by the 19th century these had come to encompass not only hardstones but corals, mother-of-pearl and ivories.
The concerns of the 19th century Roman mosaicist were quite the reverse. Their art was derived from the Opus tesselatum of classical Rome, the decoration of surfaces with a multitude of stone or glass tesserae or fragments. At almost the same time as the establishment of the Optificio in Florence, the Fabbrica di S. Pietro was founded at the Vatican in 1576 to revive Opus tesselatum not only as part of a grand project for decorating the interior of the Basilica but to satisfy the demands of pilgrims for souvenirs.
The Roman mosaicist, or micro-mosaicist, used minute filaments of glass to decorate a mount usually of stone or glass. The tesserae themselves were the fragments of single colour glass rods, 'smalti filati', which when stretched 'in thickness from that of a piece of string to the finest cotton thread' produced a subtle variation in hue, the minute differences in which were exploited by the mosaicist to create shading.
By the 1820s there were about twenty mosaicists active in Rome and, as with Florence, other workshops throughout Italy and in Paris. The enormous interest in the Antique, and notably in classical architecture inspired by widespread archaeological discoveries throughout the Eastern Mediterranean awakened the mosaicist to his immediate environment and soon re-creations of landscape were superseded by miniature representations of the Parthenon, the Forum, the Colosseum and the Greek Temple at Paestum. The growth of the Romantic movement similarly led to charming representations in mosaic of peasants in traditional costumes often depicted in rural pursuits. The mosaics themselves were passed to goldsmiths for mounting, often in Archaeological Revival style or exported to France or England for setting.
Micromosaics, and certainly the finest late 18th century examples, are now keenly collected, individual examples fetching several thousand pounds. Later less well-defined pieces can still be found in the high hundreds of pounds, obviously less if damaged.

Martyn Downer

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