Viva Italia! A Decade of Italian Poster Discoveries at IPG Viva Italia! features more than fifty rare Italian poster masterpieces, dating from the 1890s to World War II. The show opens May 3, 2006 and runs through June 30th. A Reception and Preview will ta
designs of orange, aquamarine and tan. Mataloni, like Hohenstein, admired the work of Alphonse Mucha, but he also advanced the establishment of a distinctive Italian poster style – more earthy, sensual and theatrical.
The Young Masters at Ricordi
By 1900, Hohenstein’s proteges at Ricordi were bringing Art Nouveau, known as Stile Liberty in Italy, to a world class level. Leopoldo Metlicovitz (1868-1944) was Hohenstein’s greatest student. The show will offer several of his works, including the opera poster masterpieces for Puccini’s 1904 Madama Butterfly and 1919 Gianni Schicchi.
Marcello Dudovich (1878-1962) came to Ricordi in 1897 and rapidly became the leading poster artist in Italy. He was an inspired fashion illustrator, which became readily apparent in his 14 masterpieces for Ricordi’s most important client, the Mele department store of Naples. By 1907 he had abandoned many of Art Nouveau's excesses for a more modern style. This powerful style is fully revealed in his Mask of Brutus (c. 1910), a striking theatre poster, and his glamorous 1933 travel poster for a resort near Venice, entitled Grado.
Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942) also worked for Ricordi, but only after he became famous as a caricaturist while visiting Paris in 1898. Known as the father of modern advertising, Cappiello realized that a simple metaphor for a product could make a poster more memorable than all the floral complexity then in vogue.
Cappiello became the dominant poster artist in Paris until A.M. Cassandre’s arrival two decades later, and had a decisive impact on poster design everywhere. His posters for Italian clients are amongst his best, perhaps because he felt some rivalry with his contemporaries working for Ricordi. The exhibition features his most famous image, a jester in an orange peel for leading advertiser Campari, in the rare oversize Italian format (55 x 77 inches) from 1921.
Between the Wars
Social and political change intensified in Italy around World War I, and it revealed itself full force in the arts. In 1909, the Futurist Manifesto's modernistic attitude represented a new generation bent on Italian nationalism, and social and artistic revolution. Futurism absorbed Cubism, and added its own graphic vocabulary of speed and motion, but it proved too aggressive for most of Italian society. Indeed, it ultimately was too radical even for Mussolini and the Fascists, as it attacked Italian tradition while Mussolini was calling on Italians to renew the glory of ancient Rome.
By the mid ‘20s, Art Deco, the international style which combined Machine Age symbols and Cubism with exotic design from ancient Egypt, the Far East and Africa became dominant in Europe. However, in Italy, Art Deco was uniquely influenced by both Futurism and Fascism. Riccobaldi’s Fiat 1500 shows a streaking car resembling a bullet as it speeds down the Appian Way at night, glorifying the past as it exalts modern technology. Umberto di Lazzaro’s dynamic Crociera Aerea of 1933 for aviator Italo Balbo’s crossing of the Atlantic in the early '30s equally reveled in the triumph of Italian modernism. A third example is the