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Published: 21 December 2015

The Imaginative Work of Piero Fornasetti

"Salvation is in the imagination…"    - Piero Fornasetti

Freeman’s inaugural Art + Design sale is slated for March 20, 2016. It is a continuum of Freeman’s long commitment to the applied and decorative arts. We are pleased to present works by innovative and imaginative designers such as Piero Fornasetti at auction this spring.

Milan, Italy-born Piero Fornasetti established a design style recognizable world-wide.  Combining the dictates of classical architecture with his fanciful graphics, the artist dreamt-up furniture, housewares, clothing, and artwork that has awed and inspired audiences since the 1950s.The post-war period in Europe was a time of great artistic exploration that allowed Italian designers and artists to flourish.  Many collaborated, combining their respective artistic skills to create works that blurred the lines between art, craft, and design.

Gio Ponti, architect, designer and Fornasetti’s long-time collaborator and friend, has said ““He makes objects speak.”  Indeed, Fornasetti imbued objects with a personality that is unexpected, surreal, ironic, and bemusing, yet delightful.  His gift as a draftsman is what holds our attention; using the whole field of a chair, cabinet, or vase to create a visual feast.  Among Fornasetti’s most successful and desirable designs, are those collaborations with Gio Ponti, one of the most significant designers and architects of the 20th century.  The “Architecture” bureau and desk is one such collaboration, dating to 1951.  This decade saw a number of collaborations between Ponti and Fornasetti, giving structure to the latter’s imagination. 

The prototype for the bureau had splayed and tapered wood legs and a concave pediment.  It was exhibited at the IX Milan Triennale.  One of two existing examples is in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum  in London.  Ultimately, Fornasetti altered the pediment and base for production beginning in 1953.  To be offered in Freeman’s Art + Design auction, March 20, 2016, the present model is one of approximately forty examples that were produced in the 1950s and 60s.  A handful of editions were issued in the 1970s and 80s.  Following his father’s death in 1988, Piero Fornasetti’s son, Barnaba, has reissued the cabinet in ten to fifteen editions per year.

Are You Mad About Modern?

Browse the Art + Design Auction Catalogue

Image: Piero Fornasetti, early "trumeau architettura", late 1950s/early 1960s. Estimate $20,000-30,000.

Are You Living with an Icon? Piero Fornasetti

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