Irene De Guttry
Maria Paola Maino
24 Ore Cultura, Milan, Italy, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Product/Industrial Design
9 x 12 inches, 120 pages, 86 color and 15 black-and-white illustrations
ISBN: 9788866481195
Suggested Retail Price: $45.00

From the Publisher. The first volume in the series on Twentieth-Century Decorative and Applied Arts is dedicated to what is known in Italy as Stile Liberty, or Liberty Style. Flowers, ribbons, garlands, dragonflies, butterflies and graceful young women dancing, followed by a host of curvilinear, sinuous, and spiraling forms: this was Liberty, the new style that at the dawn of the 20th century, by creating a rupture with traditional artistic forms, spread throughout Europe. Although the movement was short-lived, the First International Exposition of Modern Decorative Arts held in Turin in 1902 showed that it numbered excellent interpreters in every single field. Chini's ceramic works, furniture designed by Quarti and Basile, Mazzucotelli's wrought iron objects, glass-work by Buffa and Cambellotti: pieces that are now much sought after by private collectors and museums.

Contents: The Art Journals Divulging the New Style; Humanitarian Socialism; Italy Land of Artisans; The Physiognomy of the Style; Architecture; The Triumph of the Liberty Style in the Decorative Arts; The Liberty Style and Its Public; The Great International Exhibitions; International Exposition of Modern Decorative Art, Turin 1902; The Great Sempione Exposition in Milan; Turin 1911; Oblivion and Revival; Focus on: Dannunzian Style; Selected References.


On 1 book list
Norman Weinstein

Of books focused on Art Nouveau decorative arts there is no dearth, a fact perhaps connected to the burgeoning interest in biomorphic forms and patterns in our time. But Italian Liberty Style is the only book in English that critically reflects upon the peculiar Italian version of Art Nouveau, and that fact alone makes this well-illustrated but brief overview essential.

Arguably, Art Nouveau was a first foreshadowing of stylized decorative patterns emphasizing the sinuous and undulating lines and interlocking luxuriant flora and fauna displays now digitally reproduced from detailed nature photography. Putting this decorative design orientation within a specifically Italian context means that the forms and colors of decorative items (think furniture, pottery, and glass) were derived from Italy’s rural landscapes and urban food markets. Additionally—and this is a key point the authors pass over a bit breezily—Italian Liberty Style has roots in the manic profusion of energetic zigzagging details of nature in Baroque period art, and in other Italian Renaissance art influenced by North African Islamic arts, particularly calligraphy. So to dive into the 100 illustrations comprising this book’s core, you are immersing yourself in cross-cultural cross-talks charged with spicy Italian flavors.

The “Liberty” in the book’s title refers both to the Arthur Liberty’s department store—exploding with Art Nouveau decorative items for the homes of the emergent 19th-century middle class—and the spirit of “liberty,” a new political, social, and aesthetic freedom emerging after Italy’s 19th-century national unification. That explains why even the few imitative decorative works on display in these pages—those William-Morrising themselves into plant-rich but peat-dense wallpaper—still maintain charm. Giovanni’s glass panel of the mythic Medusa could have been created yesterday. And advertising posters exude an exotic romanticism easily confused with 21st-century waves of neo-psychedelic graphics marked with Botticellian flair.

comments powered by Disqus