Issue n. 15
September 15, 2001
~~~ ARLECCHINO NEWSLETTER
~~~ A free bi-weekly newsletter of 287 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 #15, September 15, 2001
As of the catastrophe in the United States, please let me take a short moment to give
silence to the victims of this tragic event. Here in Italy our hearts go out to their
loved ones. Let us hope that they can gather their forces and reinstate a sense of balance
and order in their country.
Let me also give my thoughts to the hope that these events will not precipitate further
violence. My hope is that the group responsible will be brought to justice and that the US
will have peace again shortly.
I hope you have no relatives, friends or associates involved in this tremendous moment.
My sincere condolences go out to any of those in your community who have loved ones
involved in the tragedy.
IN THIS ISSUE
New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)
1) Venice Biennale 2001
2) From Art Nouveau to Expressionism
New Topics on Italian style (2)
1) Italian culture inspires fine food, fine living
by Marilynn Marter
2) Pizzaz in the Piazza - Siena
by Mary McGrory
New Topics on Italian handicraft works of art (2)
1) Macef Autumn 2001
by Manuela Cardinetti
2) Orogemma 2001: business time
by Marco Piazzalunga
New Topics on Italian/European antiques & collectibles (2)
1) Colourful Clarice Cliff's pottery
by Suzy Walls
2) Bracelets of the Mid-1930s
by Isabelle Bryman
-----====(* FINE ARTS IN ITALY & EUROPE *)====-----
Subject: Venice Biennale 2001
VENICE Italy, September 5, 2001 - June 10th saw the inauguration of the 49th edition of
the Biennale d'Arte in, which up to now has received a record number of visitors: 4,000 on
opening day alone. This exhibition is being hailed by the world press as the most complete
Venice Biennale ever presented since the first edition opened its doors in 1895.
The display areas, some 27,000 sq. meters in total, comprise the historic Castello
Gardens, the Corderie, Artiglierie and the Gaggiandre, as well as Isolotto, the Tese and
the recently restored Giardini delle Vergini.
The Platea dell'umanitÓ, title selected by director Harald Szeemann, presents itself to
the public as an idealistic platform on the contemporary where divisions separating time,
language and cultures are leveled. This confirms the overall message of the Biennale which
from its inception has been "against closed parameters of style, nationality,
The event is indeed a platform, and the sum of art in its totality.
Visual art is represented as the result of contact with other forms of creative expression
such as dance, music, cinema and theater. To this end, the Biennale d'Arte has utilized
the incorporation of a collaborative effort involving the Mostra Internazionale d'Arte
Cinematografica. The results of this collaboration have been six projects realized by
various contemporary cinema professionals whose contributions complement a number of
artistic projects where video is the primary medium. Film-makers accepting the invitation
to participate are Chantal Akerman, Atom Egoyan (with Juliao Sarmiento), Yervant Gianikian
and Angela Ricci Lucchi, Abbas Kiarostami, David Lynch and Edward Yang.
The 49th edition of this event comprises the largest number of countries participating in
the history of the Biennale -- a total of 64! This is particularly significant in view of
the fact that the role of the pavilion has evolved from the representative to the
demonstrative, featuring original exhibits promoted and curated directly by the individual
Two years ago, a milestone was reached as the flat surfaces of the Italian Pavilion were
joined by the sculpted lines of Venice's monumental Arsenale, so representative of
16th-century Venetian architecture. Now two new venues have been added, culled from the
Tese delle Vergini. They are rather austere sites, right and proper "darkrooms",
in stark contrast to the rich and brilliant green of the surrounding Giardini delle
Additionally, the Dance, Music and Theater spaces have been enlarged and integrated into
the exhibition areas.
Subject: From Art Nouveau to Expressionism
ROME Italy, September 11, 2001 - Location: The Vittoriano Complex, Rome, from October 7 to
February 3 2002. This is the first exhibition that Rome has decided to dedicate to three
great Austrian artists - Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Egon Schiele (1890-1918) and Oskar
Kokoschka (1886-1980) - who have been put together on this occasion in order to show the
"fin de siŔcle" atmosphere in Austria during the passage from Art Nouveau to
Expressionism. The exhibition will be held in the Vittoriano Complex and will include
about 100 major works, 40 of them paintings together with an important collection of
watercolours and drawings. The works by the three Austrian artists in this important
exhibition entitled "Klimt, Kokoschka, Schiele: from Art Nouveau to Expressionism
will plunge visitors into the atmosphere of the city of Vienna in the period bridging the
two centuries; a city caught between European symbolism, Art Nouveau and Expressionism.
Visitors will be able to admire Klimt's paintings which are rhythmic compositions with
accentuated linearism, glazed and rare colours and gilded backgrounds with female faces
set against them like jewels, Kokoschka's "expressionist" works characterised by
a strong psychological penetration and chromatic violence and Schiele's pictures which
entrust the expression of his anguish to a sharp line of gothic incisiveness. Among the
major oil paintings on display, visitors will be able to see some of Klimt's marvellous
works - the famous Nuda Veritas, oil on canvas (1899), Judith 1 and Adam and Eve, oil on
canvas from 1917-18.
-------=======(* ITALIAN STYLE *)=======-------
Subject: Italian culture inspires fine food, fine living
CHICAGO Usa, September 14, 2001 - In Italy, people care about food. The whole culture
revolves around food. You don't "grab" a cup of coffee in the morning. You go to
a cafe, you sit down, and you sip your morning coffee while you talk with your neighbors,
even if only for 10 minutes.
So says Sharon Sanders, author of "Cooking Up an Italian Life" (Pergola West,
$26.95). "That's something we all can enjoy. It's like a minivacation," says
Sanders, recalling the two years she lived in Italy.
That was more than 20 years, one marriage, two children, and a successful career ago. But
those two years and the Italian lifestyle remain imprinted on both Sharon and Walter
Sanders, on their way of life, and on her career as a food writer.
Her life story is a tale of a young, post-college traveler from a farm in Fallen Timber,
Pa. (a scenic spot in Cambria County), who is smitten with a young man working in a
leather shop in Florence.
She returns home but goes back to Italy a few months later, to stay. The young man is
really a transplanted American from Chicago.
For the Sanders family, living an Italian lifestyle translates to lighting candles,
putting Italian music on the stereo, and sitting down together at the dinner table
(almost) every night.
It means eating fresh foods simply prepared.
It means inviting people over to share the dining experience. And having much of the work
done ahead so that, as hosts, they have time to talk with their guests.
In season, it means buying huge bags of peppers to roast and freeze. There also are
freezer stocks of basil and parsley blended for pesto.
Yet, if necessary, says Sanders, it can mean taking convenient shortcuts -- using rustic
breads from a bakery, fresh roasted peppers from a deli, or prepared pesto or canned broth
from a supermarket.
In essence, it means focusing on the food -- and the flavor. For example, Sanders recalls
the first time daughter Tess (then age 9) was served fresh fruit in Italy. A ripe peach
arrived in a linen-lined basket, preceded by a plate, a knife and fork, plus a bowl of
water to wash the fruit.
In Italy, Sanders explains, "they treat a ripe peach with the respect it
The occasion was a return trip to Italy in 1998, accompanied by daughters Emma, now 15,
and Tess, 12, during which the couple renewed their wedding vows in the chapel at Santa
Croce to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
Sanders' years in Florence gave her an appreciation of not only fine food, but also fine
living. That appreciation has evolved into a mission of sorts to spread the word.
When the newlyweds moved to Chicago, Sanders turned her growing passion for food into a
career, styling photos and writing about food for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Subject: Pizzaz in the Piazza - Siena
SIENA Italy, September 9, 2001 - This Tuscan town not far from Florence is known for its
graceful oval square, the Piazza del Campo, which is the site of an insane horse race -- a
twice-yearly event that draws hysterical horseplayers from all over the world. The square
is covered with straw, paglia, for the fabulously unfair contest, which is named the
Palio. The occasion is the antithesis of Ascot. The whole cast of jockeys, trainers and
flag-throwers wears medieval garb. The jockeys come from 10 of the 17 wards, contrade, of
the city and have all been blessed at Mass in their parish churches before they go out to
display outrageously bad sportsmanship: They whip rival horses and jockeys. I remember the
shrieking approval of these tactics from experiencing it long ago. There's none of the
English sentimentality about horses and riders. They meet for the first time the frenzied
day of the race, a cab driver told me.
When I went back to Siena last month, I found the piazza in the grip of a totally
different kind of excitement. For three nights in a row -- a run-through in mufti, a dress
rehearsal and, finally, the Sunday night performance itself -- the square rang with the
melodies of Verdi's "Nabucco." We heard solos, duets, trios and a magnificent
chorus from the Arturo Toscanini Foundation.
My friend Elizabeth Shannon and I found that opera-going in Siena is not like elsewhere,
in that, here, the opera comes to you. We were staying in an apartment overlooking the
square -- which commanded a wonderful view of everything but the action, which was, in any
case, unintelligible: It was about Nabucco, the king of Babylon, who was engaged in
hostilities with the Jews as well with his own daughters, one of whom was really the child
of a slave. Italian opera's staple -- unsuitable attachments -- was much in evidence, with
the royal sisters fixed on the same man. A scorecard is useless; it's the music that
The first night, we sat in the square and ate ice cream as Verdi wrapped us in beautiful
sounds. A full, bright-orange moon was rising over the crenellated walls of the
14th-century bell tower. Stars shone in the dark-blue velvet sky; the chorus sang its
heart out. The soprano's voice floated like a banner over the choral harmonies, and the
baritone's obbligato was like a bell tolling.
"Nabucco's" haunting chorus, "Va', Pensiero," began. The lament of the
Hebrew slaves is Italy's favorite song; many have long felt it should be Italy's national
anthem. The rendition provoked a thunder of applause.
Sunday night was the real thing. The crowd -- the daily Corriere di Siena put it at 20,000
-- gathered early, and proud Sienese placed torches on the roofs of the medieval buildings
that ring the square. The orchestra and the singers were at the top of their game. The
conductor radiated verve and mastery. The audience was as still as if in church. The
maestro turned ceremoniously to the audience, then back and gave the downbeat. It was the
moment the piazza had been waiting for. The chorus began, a little tentatively, but
gathered strength and soon the square was awash in tears and glory.
This was opera, Italian style -- not just opera but an experience overflowing with emotion
and the feeling of sharing the beauty that makes the world such a fine place.
------=====(* ITALIAN HANDICRAFT WORKS OF ART *)=====------
Subject: Macef Autumn 2001
MILAN Italy, September 2, 2001 - The Fiera di Milano will house from 7 to 10 September the
completely revamped Macef Autumn 2001, the international fair of household goods,
silverware, jewelry and timepieces. The innovations include the three new pavilions in the
Portello area to relaunch the gold-silver department in grand style. The World Silverware
Show (pavilions 15/1 and 16/1) will cover an area of almost nine thousand square metres
entirely devoted to silverware for the home. The Gold Gallery Select (at pavilion 14/1),
will present the new trends in gold and silver, jewelry and gift items in platinum, with
diamonds, precious stones, corals and pearls, whereas Stones & Gems (pavilions 17/1
and 18) will show articles linked to this sector, such as costume jewelry and precious and
semiprecious stones. There will be around 3,500 exhibitors at the New Macef Autumn 2001
covering an area of 136,000 square metres. The fair will be divided into four main areas
(Silver-Gold, Tableware and Kitchenware, Gift Items, Home Decoration) instead of the
former nine sectors, thanks also to the acquisition of the three 'Portello' pavilions.
Around nine thousand visitors are expected.
Five trends for costume jewelry:
An entire costume jewelry pavilion (17/2░) will house around 100 exhibitors on the Macef
Autumn gold and silver route in the Milan Fair. This vast, state-of-the-art showcase will
include everything from fancy and precious-metal items to fashion accessories and jewelry
cases and holders, hair accoutrements and ornamental semi-worked articles. International
fashion has now rediscovered costume jewelry as a quality object; an indispensable
accessory in the time-proven fashion-bijoux combination. Hence the coming Bijoux 2001 has
pinpointed and consecrated five leading trends for the autumn winter 2001/2002 season:
Metamorphosis, The Military Game, Las Vegas, The New Barbarians and Modernism.
Subject: Orogemma 2001: business time
VICENZA Italy, September 4, 2001 - Orogemma 2001 is an important appointment for the gold
industry after the summer break and with a view to the winter season and Christmas
festivities. The trade fair, organised by the Ente Fiera of Vicenza, has a wealth of
novelties. From 8 to 13 September, the spotlight is on watches, platinum and tennis
bracelets with shows and competitions organised by Arg˛, Diffusione Platino and Diamond
Trading Company. Italian and foreign dealers will have the possibility of assessing
proposals and trends for the autumn, reorganising their collections and doing new
Watches in the limelight:
The watch section opens for the first time in the new Leonardo Pavilion, an exhibition
area a few steps away from the headquarters of Orogemma and where the two previous
Oromacchine shows were held. This new event is designed to present the main novelties in
the fashion-watch sector, of particular interest to dealers with the Christmas season on
Doors open to the public:
During the six exhibition days members of the public can also visit the Vicenza event,
hitherto open only to trade visitors. To encourage a wider and more heterogeneous public,
the fair has organized two collateral shows on watches. The "Mostra del Premio Arg˛
per lorologeria" (Arg˛ Prize for Watches Show), in Pavilion L, presents the
prize-winning watches in a special competition organised by the magazine
"L'Orologio". This is a kind of annual Oscar for watches, voted by readers of
the publication. The second show, "Il tempo di Cleto Munari",(The Time of Cleto
Munari) again in Pavilion L, offers 25 models of watches made for Cleto Munari by
world-famous designers such as Michael Graves, Hans Hollein, Arata Isozaki and Ettore
Current trends in the sector:
The figures collected by the Fiera di Vicenza show a slowdown in the Italian gold business
during the first quarter of 2001. But this was already partly expected at the end of 2000,
especially after the long and extraordinary performance recorded during that year. On
average, it is calculated there was a 14% drop during the January-March 2001 period
compared to the first quarter of 2000, during which an exceptional 35% increase over the
same period of 1999 was achieved. But the 2001 performance overall cannot be predicted on
the basis of such a short period. Also because the national industrial output as a whole
has already been showing signs of growth since April.
-----===(* ITALIAN/EUROPEAN ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES *)===-----
Subject: Colourful Clarice Cliff's pottery
LONDON UK, September 7, 2001 - Born into a working-class family in Stoke on Trent, Clarice
Cliff succeeded, by gritty determination and extraordinary talent, in becoming a ceramic
designer of international repute. Her boldly coloured, hand painted pottery quickly earned
her the title, Sunshine Girl.
Clarice Cliff's ranges, daring for their day, initially involved bright colours applied to
whiteware in bold geometric designs. Spring 1928 saw the launch of the first range,
dubbed, after her own suggestion, Bizarre Ware. The name 'Bizarre' was designed to attract
attention and subsequent interest was carefully generated by way of practical
demonstrations. At the entrances to major department stores in London, Bizarre Girls
demonstrated how plain whiteware was given a new and dynamic lease of life upon having a
Clarice Cliff design skillfully applied to it.
Following the range's initial success, more craftsmen and women were added to the team and
both patterns and colours were quickly standardised to speed up production. Above all
else, Clarice Cliff strove for, "colour and plenty of it ... I cannot put too much of
it into my designs to please women." Floral patterns quickly followed the early
abstract geometric designs and the crocus pattern, in which three or four simple, downward
strokes formed the petals of each flower and thinner strokes formed the green leaves, was
immediately successful, continuing to be so throughout the 30s.
The designs had universal appeal and customers were able to purchase Cliff pottery from
many retail outlets, including Harrods, Liberty, Lawleys and Barkers. The Applique range
is the most sought after nowadays but in the 1930s it was the Inspiration range that
commanded the highest prices at Harrods. These particular wares were purposefully aimed at
a more discriminating, affluent market and are extremely distinctive, since they were
fired at unusually high temperatures.
Clarice Cliff astutely appreciated that innovation was of paramount importance. She was
forever introducing new patterns to the market and an incredible total of over three
hundred and fifty patterns were developed by Clarice Cliff and her workforce.
The designs were perceived of as attractive novelties and sold effortlessly. They were
said to have brightened up many bored housewives' lives. Clarice Cliff's overwhelming
success may be attributed to the timely introduction of her distinctive and robust pottery
into a depressed market place, during an epoch of economic hardship. Numbered amongst her
clients were celebrities from the world of stage, screen and radio, and fashionable
women's magazines enthusiastically commissioned select sets of dinner and tea-ware for
These same designs have maintained their appeal, and today Clarice Cliff's work is
extremely collectable. Although there is a broad variety of individual items available on
the market, each piece has its own unique decorative characteristics. Chargers, large flat
dishes, traditionally elicit high prices at auction. In November 1994, at Christie's South
Kensington, a rare, vibrantly coloured charger sold for ú12,100 setting a new world
record for any piece of Cliff pottery. The semi-abstract charger depicted Mount Etna
against a blood red sky full of bright yellow clouds.
Subject: Bracelets of the Mid-1930s
ROME Italy, September 10, 2001 - When examining the jewelry styles of the mid-1930s,
bracelets seem to stand out more than any other type jewelry.
Granted, dress clips and fur clips were also in fashion, and so were beads. But the
bracelets appear to have been more important than any other fashion accessory, both for
daytime wear and for evening.
Gold was The look, and gold could be worn during the day and the evening also.
For high fashion wear, Lucite was just beginning to come into its own. Bakelite was worn
as a fun and casual look, never dressy.
With the recent advent of Bakelite sometimes selling for astronomical prices in Europe, it
is easy to assume that Bakelite may have been a very valuable substance, almost like gold.
Nothing could be further from the truth at the time. Bakelite jewelry was sold in
department stores, even dime stores, as a fun impulse item. Of course, given the tough
times for many during the 1930s, only fashion fans with discretionary funds could afford
to splurge on impulse items.
All such bracelets were not cheap, by any means. Avant-garde artists turned out
super-sized sculptures in wood, Bakelite, and other materials, usually making a statement
in the form of the popular bracelet. These were mostly made specifically for shows and
The real look was still very much the traditional preferred fashion, and if the costume
jewelry could imitate it, the manufacturers did. They carefully copied the gold and
diamond jewelry sold in fine stores, and produced their own versions, mostly unmarked so
that it was even more likely to do a good imitation of the real thing. No telltale costume
jewelry manufacturers' stamps or names to give away the deception, this jewelry was
produced in the most careful manner. A small Sterling stamp on a clasp was sometimes the
only clue, but who would know that except the wearer?
As for how to wear the bracelets, one hot look was two on one arm, and nothing on the
other. One bracelet could be a watch, of course, with the watch face covered with jewels
on a pop-up "lid." This was important so that the wearer could check the time
for cocktails at 5:00 and dinner at 8:00, to be sure her evening schedule was in sync at
The current popularity of bracelets has resulted in a renewed interest in vintage
bracelets. Many of the styles from the mid- 1930s could have been made today. Some of them
are definitely revived in modern styles, as they have just as much appeal today. A
60-year-old bracelet in good condition shows its age a lot less than anything (or anyone)
else of the same age.
As bracelets of the mid-1930s were plentiful then, it is not surprising that so many of
them have survived today. However, as they become snapped up by collectors, even the once
plentiful supply is diminishing. A mid-1930s bracelet is a fun investment, wearable and
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