Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 3 Issue n. 11
June 01, 2001

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~~~      ARLECCHINO NEWSLETTER
~~~
~~~      A free bi-weekly newsletter of 269 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
~~~      ArlecchinoPublisher@studiosoft.it
~~~
~~~      Vol. 3, issue #11, June 01, 2001
~~~
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                    IN THIS ISSUE
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New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)
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1) Biennale di Venezia: the 49th Exhibition live on the web
     by Marco Piazzalunga

2) The museum and Borghese gallery in Rome
     by Carlo Baioni

New Topics on Italian style (2)
-------------------------------------

1) Fashion Houses: Dolce & Gabbana
     by AlterEgo

2) Italian style in interiors
     by Francesco Piano

New Topics on Italian handicraft works of art (2)
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1) Italian influences in jewelry
     by Manuela Cardinetti

2) The Gondola and its history
     by Ferdinando Pavan

New Topics on Italian/European antique & collectibles (2)
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1) Bottles As Investments
     by Paul Daniell

2) Collecting Antique Tools
     by Steve Johnson





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

Subject: Biennale di Venezia: the 49th Exhibition live on the web

VENICE Italy, May 29, 2001 - On 9 June the 49th International Exhibition of Visual Arts of the Biennale opens its doors under the direction of Harald Szeemann, who takes this year’s show as a further development upon the 48th Exhibition of 1999.
It will be possible to view the 49th International Exhibition of Art live on a new Internet site set up in collaboration with the Biennale di Venezia and which will have a link appearing on the official site, www.labiennale.org.
Interviews, celebrations and parties, as well as the inauguration ceremony will be broadcasted on www.biennale24.com.
The website springs from a collaboration between the Allen Dickinson group and Bew, a multimedia company. "Through this meeting of art and technology", declared Alvise di Canossa, president of Allen Dickinson, "we wish to apply the philosophy of Harald Szeemann, director of the 49th Exhibition, according to which the Biennale should be seen not only as an art exhibition, but also as a Plateau of Humankind on which it is the public that is the true protagonist."
http://www.labiennale.org
http://www.biennale24.com

Marco Piazzalunga

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Subject: The museum and Borghese gallery in Rome

ROME Italy, May 24, 2001 - The original sculptures and paintings in the Borghese Gallery date back to Cardinal Scipione's collection, the son of Ortensia Borghese - Paolo V's sister - and of Francesco Caffarelli, though subsequent events over the next three centuries entailing both losses and acquisition have left their mark.
Cardinal Scipion was drawn to any works of ancient, Renaissance and contemporary art which might re-evoke a new golden age. He was not particularly interested in medieval art, but passionately sought to acquire antique sculpture. But Cardinal Scipione was so ambitious that he promoted the creation of new sculptures and especially marble groups to rival antique works.
The statue of Pauline Bonaparte, executed by Canova between 1805 and 1808, has been in the villa since 1838. In 1807, Camillo Borghese sold Napoleon 154 statues, 160 busts, 170 bas-reliefs, 30 columns and various vases, which constitue the "Borghese Collection" in the Louvre. But already by the 1830s these gaps seem to have been filled by new finds from recent excavations and works recuperated from the cellars and various other Borghese residences.
Cardinal Scipione's collection of paintings was remarkable and was poetically described as early as 1613 by Scipione Francucci. In 1607, the Pope gave the Cardinal 107 paintings which had been confiscated from the painter Giuseppe Cesari, called the Cavalier d'Arpino. In the following year, Raphael's Deposition was secretely removed from the Baglioni Chapel in the church of S.Francesco in Perugia and transported to Rome. It was given to the Cardinal Scipione through a papal motu proprio.
In 1682, part of Olimpia Aldobrandini's inheritance entered the Borghese collection; it included works from the collections of Cardinal Salviati and Lucrezia d'Este.
In 1827 Prince Camillo bought Correggios' celebrated Danäe in Paris.
http://www.galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/edefault.htm

Carlo Baioni

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

Subject: Fashion Houses: Dolce & Gabbana

MILAN Italy, May 30, 2001 - Domenico Dolce was born in Polizzi Generosa near Palermo, Sicily on August 13, 1958. He was very young when he started his career as a designer in his father Saverio's small atelier. Stefano Gabbana, of Venetian origins, was born in Milan on November 14, 1962, and after studying graphic design turned his interest to fashion.
In 1982, after having spent two years working as assistant designers they decided to work for themselves and opened a design studio. The two were united by the desire to express and communicate an unusual and extremely personal taste, much of it inspired by Dolce's Sicilian origins.
Their first break came in 1985 when they were among the three chosen names to present their collections in the new talents category at the Milan shows. The duo made a big effort and the press and buyers present at the show did the rest. The name, representing a new generation of "Made in Italy", soon became famous all over the world. First success gave them confidence to pursue their own vision of fashion, gradually expanding, and avoiding offers of easy money for licenses before they were sure of their moves.
They both work extremely hard making their own paper models, prototypes and accessories, following their sales, shows, public relations and advertising campaigns. Their vision and personalities are stamped on everything they do. Their philosophy is reflected in their work. Dolce & Gabbana's fashion has "real" women in mind; it is sensual and austere, and clearly draws inspiration from Mediterranean colours and culture. The fabrics preferred include lace, wool, and silk. In 1987 they moved into a larger showroom.
In 1988, Dolce & Gabbana signed an agreement with the Onward Kashiyama group and started distributing their designs in Japan. The previous year their first knitwear designs was launched. 1989 marked the first lingerie and beachwear outfits, followed by a menswear collection in 1990. Dolce and Gabbana signed further agreements to design the Complice line for the Genny group. Next come the boutiques, first Milan, then Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Seoul.
Becoming one of Madonna's favorite fashion houses certainly didn't hurt the team, and they designed a number of costumes for her to wear in one of her world tours. In 1992 Dolce & Gabbana launched a perfume which won the 1993 Perfume Academy International Prize for the best female fragrance. Their two latest lines include Dolce & Gabbana Basic, sold only in Milan, which covers a wide variety of their classic designs, and D & G aimed at the younger generation, both in style and price.
http://www.dolcegabbana.it

AlterEgo

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Subject: Italian style in interiors

VERONA Italy, May 21, 2001 - Characteristics of Italian Style are: clean lines and smooth surfaces, a preference for right angles and bilateral symmetry, brilliant use of stone, forged iron, and tile, well ordered interiors.
1) The clean lines and classic proportions favored by the ancient Romans are still very much appreciated in modern Italy. The eye moves smoothly over the contours of all furnishings and accessories, and is never blocked by cascading fabric. Indeed ruffled bedskirts, table drapes, voluminous bed hangings and the like find few supporters. Floors are left uncarpeted (most Italian homemakers believe that carpets trap dust and dirt, and thus are very unhealthy.) Polished marble, glass, ceramic and other flawlessly smooth surfaces are highly valued.
2) Italy is a safe haven for right angles and parallel lines. Furniture is often placed to accentuate the clean geometry of a room; long, identically shaped sofas are placed parallel to one another, or set at right angles with a side table wedged into space where the sofas come together, reinforcing the crisp rectilinearity of the arrangement. Accessories are generally arranged to reflect the preference for bilateral symmetry; two urns on either side of a large stone mantle, two identical lamps on either side of a console, and so forth.
3) Italians have long been renowned for their skill in masonry, metalworking and the making of earthenware. The beauty and the structural integrity of the Italian interior includes the full panoply of these and other noble materials. Floors are laid with marble, slate, limestone, terra-cotta or beautiful hardwoods. Walls are composed of stone, brick, often sheathed in stucco; interior walls are finished in plaster or ceramic tile. Balustrades are of lyrically curved wrought iron. Countertops are rendered in smooth granite, travertine or tile.
4) Clutter-free and well ordered interiors are a hallmark of Italian style. A strict and sophisticated discipline in the selection and placement of every object in the home seems instinctive after so many centuries of daily contact with some of the greatest works of art and architecture known to the Western world. In a culture that values the artisan, it logically follows that a well designed piece can (and must) stand in an uncluttered environment in order to be fully appreciated.

Francesco Piano

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

Subject: Italian influences in jewelry

MILAN Italy, May 27, 2001
Fresh Spring Greens: one of this spring’s hottest fashion colors is green, from dark khaki tones to yellowish golden hues. Orlando Orlandini has created a fabulously unique collection that blends in softly with a shimmering and cascading effect. One of Italy’s leading jewelry creators and winner of numerous international awards from De Beers to Couture, Orlando Orlandini’s collection will dazzle the most sophisticated of tastes.
Clasps That Refine: with the strong fashion trend of colorful necklaces and bracelets with strands of pearls or in precious or semi-precious stones, Roberta Porrati has created the perfect finishing touch. In her new collection, Reality B, Roberta Porrati offers a large selection of fabulous clasps in a variety of shapes, colors and styles that add an impeccable Italian finish for the most discerning clientele. Innovative, embellished with diamonds or colorful stones, Reality B, has the clasp for you.
Tennis Anyone? One of Pasquale Bruni’s latest collections breathes light and color into the ever popular tennis bracelet, with each piece delightfully finished with a flower motif, petal-shaped clasp. The joie de vivre floral theme for this spring has all of the markings and imagination that has become the hallmark of Pasquala Bruni. Jewelry alive with energy and color, in multiple shapes and forms and in harmony with art and contemporary fashion, continues to be Pasquale Bruni’s calling card.
Button Up: New Mood from Milan has created an easy-to-wear jewelry collection that satisfies the need to changed or express the originality of each and every day. With the Button by Bliss line, jewelry becomes an accessory to be worn with nonchalance or feminine versatility, a simple yet elegant contemporary expression that can even transform an everyday object into a unique fashion statement.
The Color of Dreams:The House of Torrini was founded in Florence in 1369. Torrini is a member of the most exclusive association in the world, Les Hénokiens, which consists of companies that were established over two hundred years ago. Their trademark consisting of a four leaf clover and spur dates back to their first profession as forgers of armour for the knights of the era. The company has over the past six hundred years developed exclusive manufacturing pro-cesses and secret formulas that have been handed down from generation to generation. Famous for their semi-polished finish, which enhances the natural color of the metal or their special alloy compositions, Torrini compliments this history with the latest in marketing and research.
http://www.pasqualebruni.com
http://www.torrini.it/inglese/default.asp

Manuela Cardinetti

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Subject: The Gondola and its history

VENICE Italy, May 17, 2001 - The gondola is certainly the most photographed craft in the world and its image has become, for millions of tourists, the symbol itself of Venice. If the lagoonal city is "unique in the world", likewise it is for the gondola: the unique boat of as much as 11 metres length and 600 kilos weight that can be driven with lightness and easiness by a single man and with a single oar!
But it is unique even for its building characteristics: it is asymmetric, as its left side is larger than the right one by 24 cm and so it always navigates inclined on one side. It has its bottom flat, this allows it to cross even depth of few centimeters. For its construction they are used 8 different kinds of wood and it is composed of 280 pieces. The only elements in metal are the characteristic "iron" of the head and the "risso" of the stern.
The iron of the head was originally an element of longitudinal stability, which had to balance the weight of the gondolier. The popular tradition wants that the front "pettini" represent the sestieri (six quarters) in which the city is divided and the back one is Giudecca island; the double "S" bending should simulate the proceeding of "Grand Canal" and the lunette, situated under a stylized dogal horn, Rialto bridge.
Until few decades ago it was placed in the centre of gondola a cabin of wood movable called "felze", that helps as protection to the passengers during winter time; today it is almost completely out of order as it obstructs the visibility and then it is little indicated for the tourists.
http://www.squero.com

Ferdinando Pavan

-----===(* ITALIAN/EUROPEAN ANTIQUE & COLLECTIBLES *)===-----

Subject: Bottles As Investments

LONDON, May 16, 2001 - I often categorize bottles as lower end, middle and upper middle, and high end. I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal once which discussed this subject with respect to all antiques, but seem quite appropriate to bottles. In short, any investment has a potential return, and a risk.
The lower end stuff ($20 or less) has little potential return, and since it costs very little, there is minor risk. Of course if you are constantly buying these bottles, it can add up, so you can end up with a lot of stuff which is returning nothing. What’s worse is that it is often quite difficult to sell or trade the lower end bottles because people just aren't looking for them. (also consider how much room they can take up!).
The mid to upper mid range stuff ($20 to $200) seems to have a nice balance of return and minimal risk. Usually these bottles appreciate nicely, and are easy to trade or sell. A lot of collectors can find this money if they really want a bottle, and they don’t take up a lot of space. You can see how well these bottles do by getting out some older price guides. (70’s and 80’s). Compare with current auction reports or price guides, and see how the return is handsome.
The upper end stuff ($200 +) is stuff of collectors dreams. These are higher risk, and sometimes higher returns. Hey who doesn't want a Cobalt Historical Flask? But one must remember that you’ve got more at risk here as it is not uncommon for a bottle to sell for $1000 at auction, and then sell for $700 the following year. You can make money, but you can also lose. (kind of like the stock market). Also, keep in mind that selling these bottles requires an auction and a more limited crowd.
Some common themes seem to run true when assessing a bottles worth.
1. Supply. Do you see a lot of them around shops, other collectors, shows? Is it rare?
2. Appearance. Put simply, Is the bottle attractive? Most bottle collectors look for color, shape, pontil, whittling, etc.
3. Condition. Cracks, large chips, holes, usually mean the bottle loses most of its worth. Less severe flaws such as small chips, minor hazing, bruising are not as problematic, especially if the bottle is very rare.
4. The older the better. Not many ABM bottles are sought after with a few exceptions.
Final thought is about bottle prices in general. Seems to me like the hobby is really taking off lately. Auction prices are higher than ever, and a number of antique shop owners in my area have said that bottles are selling well. They used to sit around forever, but now they are being snapped up as soon as they go on the shelf. (for really high prices I might add). I’ve read where some folks are bothered by higher bottle prices. Guess what? I’m not bothered in the least. It means that my stuff is worth more. Some rare pieces are selling at auction for over $5000. So what? I hope they sell next year for $10000!. (I hope the Bryant Bitters goes for $100,000). Why should all the Barbie and Sports Card collectors have all the fun? Every hobby has some "Priceless" pieces, why should bottles be any different? (I’ll take the Puce Suffolk Pig Bitters over the Holiday Barbie any day). High prices for the super collectors pieces mean that increasing numbers of people are realizing their beauty, rarity and significance.
http://www.antiquebottles-glass.com
http://www.fohbc.com/more_bottle_shows.htm
http://www.pacglass.com

Paul Daniell

---------------

Subject: Collecting Antique Tools

PHILADELPHIA U.S.A., May 26, 2001 - Tools made possible all human advances in art, knowledge, and industry. The history of these tools, the ideas of the men who invented them, and the skills required for their use are all areas I feel it is important to preserve. Tools are an extension of the human mind - the capabilities of the tool not only extend and shape the ways we think of things, but limit our thoughts as well. Factories cannot produce without tools, and neither can any artist. I believe that a knowledge of tools and their use is a foundation upon which you can build anything - understand the tools involved, and you can create whatever you can imagine.
The scope, variety, and ingeniousness of tools is virtually mind-boggling. People have invented tools to do practically everything, and it would be impossible to try and cover the entire breadth. Instead, this article will describe some of the more popular areas of tool collecting, and provide information on how you can learn more about this fascinating piece of history.
Collectors interested in woodworking tools have many choices when it comes to areas of specialization. Probably the most popular woodworking tool to collect is the plane, a tool used to slice thin sheets of wood from a board to level it and square it before finishing. Planes are beautiful, many using exotic woods in their construction along with brass, gunmetal, bronze, and steel. Planes were made by dozens of companies abroad and in the United States, with the most prolific maker being the Stanley Company of New Britain, Connecticut.
Other popular woodworking tools to collect include rules, hammers, braces, chisels, axes, and levels, and there are dozens of other categories as well. While collecting, it is hard to avoid learning about these tools -- who used the tools and for what, why they had to be designed the way they were, and why some of history's poor tool designs didn't go far commercially but are now valuable and rare collector's items. Although the number of tool varieties can initially be overwhelming, once you've identified an area of interest it becomes fairly easy to determine who made a given tool (most are marked), when it was made (many have patent dates stamped on them), and with the help of other tool experts how much it is worth.
Finding the "other tool experts" is another fun part of the hobby. Several national organizations exist for tool collectors, the largest two being the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association (MWTCA) and the Early American industries Assocation (EAIA).
Finding tools to collect is also part of the adventure. The usual garage sales, estate sales, and auctions are highly likely to have tools, as almost every household had some, even the houses owned by those with the least developed mechanical abilities.
For me, though, the most enjoyable part of collecting antique tools is meeting the other people interested in tool's history. By far the vast majority of these collectors are polite, honest, and thoughtful individuals who are a pleasure to talk to, and who will freely share their sometimes hard-won knowledge with anyone expressing a sincere desire to learn.
http://www.mwtca.org
http://www.eaiainfo.org

Steve Johnson





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