Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 3 Issue n. 15
September 15, 2001

~~~      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
~~~      Marco Piazzalunga, Publisher
~~~      Vol. 3, issue #15, September 15, 2001

Dear friends,

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.

Your moderator,

Marco Piazzalunga

                    IN THIS ISSUE

New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)

1) Venice Biennale 2001
     by Dolcevita

2) From Art Nouveau to Expressionism
     by Enit

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, nationalism, time".
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 countries.
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 Vergini gardens.
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 deserves."
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.

Marilynn Marter


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 matters.
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.

Mary McGrory

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

Manuela Cardinetti


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 business.
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 the horizon.
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 l’orologeria" (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 Sottsass.
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.

Marco Piazzalunga


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 their readers.
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.

Suzy Walls


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 fashion photos.
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 all times.
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 durable.

Isabelle Bryman

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