Fornasetti: a Game of Multiplicity
Corso Matteotti 1/A, Milan
Deceptive landscapes, alchemies, fantastic architectures and mosaics, enigmatic human and animal figures and much more form the backdrop to the mental journey we are about to take. Indeed, Fornasetti produced one of the 20th century’s most fascinating furniture and object collections, a world that breaks all the rules, fruit of the imagination of Piero Fornasetti since the 1950s and now of his son, Barnaby’s: an aesthetic shaped to decorate the contemporary, but also a timeless repertory, a surreal tangle that, as always, both captivates and unsettles modern man suspended as he is between order and chaos.
Giotto and Piero della Francesca first inspired his artworks, alongside the Pompei paintings, the renaissance frescos and metaphysical art. In 1942, Piero Fornasetti frescoed the Palazzo del Bo in Padua, following up that feat a decade later with the internal decorations for the San Remo Casino on the theme of playing cards. The Fornasetti style is distinguished by its palatial and rigorous dimension and a pastel colour palette limited to only a few shades. The decorative motifs of screens, chairs and trumeau, plates and dinner services, umbrella holders and ashtrays encompass obsessively recurrent reproductions of pieces of newspaper, musical instruments, animals, fantastic cities and architectures, continually revisited through multiple variations on the theme.
The “Tema & Variazioni” collection is his son Barnaba’s modern take on the vast material accumulated by Piero Fornasetti, shaping new variations of the themes loved by his father. Such as the enigmatic face of a woman unearthed from a 19th-century French magazine, reproduced on a multiple use newspaper like a plate. The seed from which the collection grew spontaneously to evolve into more than 350 different variations on the theme of classical beauty.
Impossible, therefore, to unravel the tangle of inventions made by this alchemist, so brimful it is with inspirations – from psychology to mathematics through to poetry and science fiction. Fornasetti has actually produced a kaleidoscope of objects of common use in which, without knowing the mechanism, we try to intuit, between shelves and drawers, the secret of the family art, a jubilation of wonders of the past with a metaphysical twist, capable of transcending reality and suspending time in an elsewhere yet to be discovered.