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Gio Ponti Folk Art

Gio Ponti (Italy, 1891–1979)
Gio Ponti (Italy, 1891–1979)

An architect, furniture and industrial designer and editor, Gio Ponti was arguably the most influential figure in 20th-century Italian modernism.

Ponti (1891–1979) designed thousands of furnishings and products — from cabinets, lamps and chairs to ceramics and coffeemakers — and his buildings, including the brawny Pirelli Tower (1956) in his native Milan, and the castle-like Denver Art Museum (1971), were erected in 14 countries. Through Domus, the magazine he founded in 1928, Ponti brought attention to virtually every significant movement and creator in the spheres of modern art and design.

The questing intelligence Ponti brought to Domus is reflected in his work: as protean as he was prolific, Ponti’s style can’t be pegged to a specific genre. In the 1920s, as artistic director for the Tuscan porcelain maker Richard Ginori, he fused old and new; his ceramic forms were modern, but decorated with motifs from Roman antiquity. In pre-war Italy, modernist design was encouraged, and after the conflict, Ponti — along with designers such as Carlo Mollino, Franco Albini, Marco Zanuso — found a receptive audience for their novel, idiosyncratic work. Ponti’s typical furniture forms from the period, such as the wedge-shaped Distex chair, are simple, gently angular, and colorful; equally elegant and functional. In the 1960s and ’70s, Ponti’s style evolved again as he explored biomorphic shapes, and embraced the expressive, experimental designs of Ettore Sottsass Jr., Joe Colombo and others.

His signature furniture piece — the one by which he is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Germany’s Vitra Design Museum and elsewhere — is the sleek Superleggera chair, produced by Cassina starting in 1957. (The name translates as “superlightweight” — advertisements featured a model lifting it with one finger.) Ponti had a playful side, best shown in a collaboration he began in the late 1940s with the graphic artist Piero Fornasetti. Ponti furnishings were decorated with bright finishes and Fornasetti's whimsical lithographic transfer prints of things such as butterflies, birds or flowers; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts possesses a 1950 secretary from their Architetturra series, which feature case pieces covered in images of building interiors and facades. The grandest project Ponti and Fornasetti undertook, however, lies on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean: the interiors of the luxury liner Andrea Doria, which sank in 1956.

Widely praised retrospectives at the Queens Museum of Art in 2001 and at the Design Museum London in 2002 sparked a renewed interest in Ponti among modern design aficionados. (Marco Romanelli’s monograph written for the London show, offers a fine overview of Ponti’s work.) Today, a wide array of Ponti’s designs are snapped up by savvy collectors who want to give their homes a touch of Italian panache and effortless chic.

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"Diavolessa", or "Cut-Out Thought"
By Gio Ponti
Located in New York, NY
Provenance Lino Sabattini, Italy Acquired from the above by the present owner Literature: Lisa Licitra Ponti, Gio Ponti: The Complete Works 1923-1978, London, 1990, p. 262 for...
Category

20th Century Italian Post-Modern Gio Ponti Folk Art

Materials

Brass

Molteni&C D.950.1E Small Framed Mirror in Toulipier Wood by Gio Ponti
By Gio Ponti, Molteni & C
Located in New York, NY
Part of the Molteni&C heritage collection this trio of Frames was designed in 1950 by Gio Ponti in several sizes. Made of white hand painted solid wood. These complete the furnishing...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Gio Ponti Folk Art

Materials

Mirror

Molteni&C D.950.1G Large Framed Mirror in Toulipier Wood by Gio Ponti
By Gio Ponti, Molteni & C
Located in New York, NY
Part of the Molteni&C heritage collection this trio of Frames was designed in 1950 by Gio Ponti in several sizes. Made of white hand painted solid wood. These complete the furnishing...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Gio Ponti Folk Art

Materials

Mirror

Molteni&C D.950.1F Medium Framed Mirror in Toulipier Wood by Gio Ponti
By Gio Ponti, Molteni & C
Located in New York, NY
Part of the Molteni&C heritage Collection this trio of frames was designed in 1950 by Gio Ponti in several sizes. Made of white hand painted solid wood. These complete the furnishing...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Italian Modern Gio Ponti Folk Art

Materials

Mirror

Gio Ponti & Paolo de Poli Il Sole Enameled Copper 1956 Padova
By Gio Ponti, Paolo DePoli
Located in Montecatini Terme, IT
Il Sole enameled copper original idea by Gio Ponti produced in 1956 by Paolo de Poli, Padova. Signature, date and original label on the back. Licterature: Paolo De Poli L’Arte dell...
Category

1950s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Gio Ponti Folk Art

Materials

Copper

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