Mark this down on your calendars: The Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) has a post-Valentine’s Day gift for all of us who love Italian art and design: From Depero to Rotella: Italian Commercial Posters Between Advertising and Art (Feb. 16–June 10). What made Italian design so compelling during the interwar years is the cross-pollination between avant-garde and commercial art, the period during the country’s economic boom.
Spanning 1926 (when Fortunato Depero exhibited the Venice Biennale a “quadro pubblicitario,” Squisito al selz) and 1957 (the year in which the television advertising show Carosello aired on Italy’s national TV network RAI), the exhibition illustrates how the design of Italian commercial artists was linked to the artistic currents of the times.
Italian graphic design developed in a progressive direction, influenced in part by painters/designers aligned with Futurism and pushing the boundaries of lithographic techniques, photomontage and typography.
Among the rarities are 30 posters from major Italian institutions and corporate collections, as well as a few select private collections in the United States. Designers exhibited include Erberto Carboni, Depero, Nikolai Diulgheroff, Lucio Fontana, Max Huber, Bruno Munari, Marcello Nizzoli, Bob Noorda, Giovanni Pintori, Xanti Schawinsky, Mario Sironi and Albe Steiner, promoting design-centric companies that were important to the industrial boom, including Barilla, Campari, Olivetti, Fiat and Pirelli. The exhibition also includes art by Mimmo Rotella, whose collages and retro d’affiches employ fragments of the commercial.