The Depero/Mendini exhibition is composed of a cycle of artworks, some previously unreleased, which the great Milanese architect and designer Alessandro Mendini has created over the years with inspiration from Depero’s iconography and tension devised to explore the boundaries between different expressive languages, especially between design and visual art.
23 July – 30 September, 2017
Museo della Casa Rossa Anacapri
Via Giuseppe Orlandi, 78, 80071 Anacapri NA,
Following this comparison at a distance, two large tapestries made by Mendini in the late Seventies engage in a dialogue with old photographs that document the beginnings of Depero’s experimentation with fabric intarsia techniques at Anacapri with local weavers; he would continue doing so in the years that followed upon returning to Rovereto, with the Casa d’Arte.
Then, three 2006 tableaux by the Milanese designer reinterpret the futurist dynamism and the chromatic geometrism with which Depero experimented in his own Capri tableaux through an original process of printing on aluminium. Meanwhile, a new series of silver and bronze masks made by Mendini this year recall Depero’s interest in a new conception of miming and, more generally, in the rejuvenated idea of a stage brought to life by imaginary robots and masks, an interest that culminated in his “BalliPlastici” (Plastic Ballets) show in 1918.
Motivated by the hundredth anniversary of Fortunato Depero’s summerin Capri, the 1917-2017 Depero/Mendini exhibition displays a selection of previously unpublished documents and unreleased images from the era, recounting the months Depero spent in Capri in the summer of 1917, engaged in preparing the works for his exhibition in the Sala Morgano in September of that year.
In Spring 1917, Mikhail Semenov, secretary to the great Ballets Russes impresario Sergei Diaghilev, brought a friend of his into Fortunato Depero’s studio in Rome. It was Gilbert Clavel, “a little hunchbacked man with a straight, square-like nose, gold teeth and women’s shoes, and vitreous, nasal laughs. A man of nerves and will, endowed with a superior culture,” as Depero described him. Heir to a dynasty of Swiss industrialists, the patron and Egyptology expert Clavel had already moved to Capri and Positano in order to finish construction on a hexagonal tower on Fornillo beach.
A few days after that first meeting, the two developed a “deep and intense” friendship. The Swiss writer, thanks in part to the failure of Depero’s partnership with Diaghilev on scenery and costumes for a Ballets Russes performance, invited the young artist to Capri as a guest for the summer, asking him to illustrate Clavel’s newly completed book An Institute For Suicides, set in none other than Capri. Thus began a human and intellectual fellowship with the azure island as its backdrop; it would give rise to one of the most intense seasons of creativity for the artist from the North-EastItalian town of Rovereto.