Art & Industry

Gio Ponti at Richard Ginori

In the 1920s Gio Ponti revolutionized the production of Richard Ginori with ceramic pieces, as he described “of vaguely neoclassical inspiration, with Etruscan suggestions, turned toward the modern with ironic elegance.” Finely executed, Ponti’s works for Richard Ginori were so widely admired at the 1923 Biennale in Monza so much so that he was named artistic director for the company that same year. At the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris just two years later, Richard Ginori was awarded two grand prizes, one of which was for Ponti and his ceramic designs.

Ponti renewed artistic expression with a modern take on classical ornamentation and decoration, forms that had once been forgotten were newly found, architecture and lively figures graced his objects. Further, his works illustrated a collaboration of art and industry as his designs were increasing applied to functional forms and not just decorative objects. Under Ponti’s direction, Richard Ginori became widely acclaimed in Italy, recognized for their precision in design, study in detail and perfect execution. During his tenure at the firm and in the years following, Ponti would create more than 400 designs. 

Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti excelled at painting as a child and expressed a fervent interest in the arts. Feeling that a career in architecture was preferable to that of a painter, Ponti’s parents encouraged him to pursue the former and in 1914 he enrolled at the Faculty of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. His studies were interrupted by war, and in 1915 he was forced to postpone his education. He served as a captain in the Pontonier Corps until 1919, earning multiple military honors. After graduating in 1921, Ponti married Giulia Vimercati, the daughter of local aristocracy and started an architecture firm. During this time, Ponti aligned himself with the neoclassical movement, Novecento and championed a revival of the arts and culture. In 1928, Ponti founded Domus, a periodical tailored to artists and designers, as well as the broader public. A shift occurred in the 1930s when Ponti took up a teaching post at his alma mater, the Politecnico di Milano. In search of new methods to express Italian modernity, Ponti distanced himself from the sentiments of Novecento and sought to reconcile art and industry. Together with the engineers, Eugenio Soncini and Antonio Fornaroli, Ponti enjoyed great success in the industrial sector, securing various commissions throughout Italy. In the 1950s, he gained international fame with the design of the Pirelli Tower in Milan and he was asked to be a part of the urban renewal of Baghdad, collaborating with top architects from around the world. His 1957 book, Amate l’architettura, is considered to be a microcosm of his work —an incredible legacy spanning art, architecture, industrial design, publishing and academia.

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