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Piero Fornasetti

Italian, 1913-1988

The Italian artist and illustrator Piero Fornasetti was one of the wittiest and most imaginative design talents of the 20th century. He crafted an inimitable decorative style from a personal vocabulary of images that included birds, butterflies, hot-air balloons, architecture and — most frequently, and in some 500 variations — an enigmatic woman’s face based on that of the 19th-century opera singer Lina Cavalieri. Fornasetti used transfer prints of these images, rendered in the style of engravings, to decorate an endless variety of furnishings and housewares that ranged from chairs, tables and desks to dinner plates, lamps and umbrella stands. His work is archly clever, often surreal and always fun.

Fornasetti was born in Milan, the son of an accountant, and he lived his entire life in the city. He showed artistic talent as a child and enrolled at Milan’s Brera Academy of Fine Art in 1930, but was expelled after two years for consistently failing to follow his professors’ orders. A group of his hand-painted silk scarves, displayed in the 1933 Triennale di Milano, caught the eye of the architect and designer Gio Ponti, who, in the 1940s, became Fornasetti’s collaborator and patron. Beginning in the early 1950s, they created a striking a series of desks, bureaus and secretaries that pair Ponti’s signature angular forms with Fornasetti’s decorative motifs — lighthearted arrangements of flowers and birds on some pieces, austere architectural imagery on others. The two worked together on numerous commissions for interiors, though their greatest project has been lost: the first-class lounges and restaurants of the luxury ocean liner Andrea Doria, which sank in 1956.

Fornasetti furnishings occupy an unusual and compelling niche in the decorative arts: they are odd yet pack a serious punch. They act, essentially, as functional sculpture. A large Fornasetti piece such as a cabinet or a desk can change the character of an entire room; his smaller works have the aesthetic power of a vase of flowers, providing a bright and alluring decorative note. The chimerical, fish-nor-fowl nature of Fornasetti’s work may be its greatest strength. It stands on its own. Bringing the Fornasetti look into the future is Barnaba Fornasetti, who took the reins of the company after his father's death.

Average Sold Price
$2,026
Styles
Materials
Piero Fornasetti Side Table, Lacquered Wood and Brass, 1960s
By Piero Fornasetti
Located in Miami, FL
A gorgeous collector's occasional table by Piero Fornasetti, signed underneath with its original label. A whimsical drink table with trompe l'oeil art work depicting playing cards, k...
Category

20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Piero Fornasetti

Materials

Brass

Piero Fornasetti Ceramic Paperweight with Emergency 1950s Phone Numbers
By Piero Fornasetti
Located in Milan, IT
Piero Fornasetti ceramic paperweight made with electrical insulators carrying important phone numbers such as the police, ambulance etc. Original label.
Category

1950s Italian Mid-Century Modern Vintage Piero Fornasetti

Materials

Ceramic

Piero Fornasetti Farfalle Table Lamp
By Piero Fornasetti
Located in London, GB
A collectable late 20th century whimsical “Farfalle” design by Piero fornasetti with colourful butterflies set against a cream background with brass accents. The lamp is labelled at ...
Category

Late 20th Century Piero Fornasetti

Materials

Brass

Pair of Late 20th Century Italian Table Lamps by Fornasetti
By Piero Fornasetti, Antonangeli
Located in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent
A beautiful pair of table lamps by Piero Fornasetti. This particular model retailed by Antonangeli in the 1990s, now discontinued and appreciating in value. Condition In Great ...
Category

Late 20th Century Italian Piero Fornasetti

Materials

Steel

Piero Fornasetti Plate Aquarius Zodiac Sign Porcelain 1964, Italy
By Piero Fornasetti
Located in Milano, IT
Piero Fornasetti plate Aquarius zodiac sign porcelain 1964, Italy.
Category

1960s Italian Other Vintage Piero Fornasetti

Materials

Porcelain

Rare Vintage Fornasetti Sun and Moon Floor Lamp
By Piero Fornasetti
Located in Palm Springs, CA
Vintage Italian floor lamp in gilt wood and metal with reverse painted depictions of the Sun and Moon, designed by Piero Fornasetti, manufactured by Antonangelli Illuminazione in Mil...
Category

Late 20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Piero Fornasetti

Materials

Metal

  • Rare Vintage Fornasetti Sun and Moon Floor Lamp
  • Rare Vintage Fornasetti Sun and Moon Floor Lamp
  • Rare Vintage Fornasetti Sun and Moon Floor Lamp
  • Rare Vintage Fornasetti Sun and Moon Floor Lamp
H 72.84 in. W 18.12 in. D 14.57 in.
Fornasetti Porcelain Moorhead Italy 1950s Signed
By Piero Fornasetti
Located in Munich, DE
Early Vintage Piero Fornasetti flower pot in white and black cast ceramic themed “Moor’s Head”. The theme of the moor’s head takes inspiration from a sicilian fantasy story (closely ...
Category

1950s Italian Hollywood Regency Vintage Piero Fornasetti

Materials

Porcelain

  • Fornasetti Porcelain Moorhead Italy 1950s Signed
  • Fornasetti Porcelain Moorhead Italy 1950s Signed
  • Fornasetti Porcelain Moorhead Italy 1950s Signed
  • Fornasetti Porcelain Moorhead Italy 1950s Signed
H 16.93 in. W 16.54 in. D 9.45 in.
Fornasetti Rosenthal Plate, Temi E Variazioni-Themes and Variation, Motiv 15
By Piero Fornasetti
Located in Downingtown, PA
Fornasetti Rosenthal Porcelain Themes & Variations Plate, Motiv 15, "Hands", With original box, The 1980s The striking Rosenthal Fornasetti gold-rimmed black and white printed ...
Category

1980s Mid-Century Modern Vintage Piero Fornasetti

Materials

Porcelain

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Piero Fornasetti Sellers

Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, Inc.
5.0
Gaspare Asaro - Italian Modern
5.0
Pushkin Antiques Ltd
5.0
Vermillion 20th Century Furnishings
5.0

Piero Fornasetti furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Piero Fornasetti furniture is available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are often made of ceramics and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options in our collection of Piero Fornasetti furniture to choose from, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. There are 268 vintage versions of these items in stock, while there is 0 modern edition to choose from as well. Many original furniture by Piero Fornasetti were created in Europe during the 20th century in the Mid-Century Modern style. Many customers also consider furniture by Marcello Fantoni, Salviati and Flavio Poli if you are looking for additional options. Prices for Piero Fornasetti furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. Price for these items starts at $289 and tops out at $48,500, while pieces like these can sell for $1,289 on average.

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