Fontana Arte

Masters of Italian Lighting

The golden era of Fontana Arte’s production began in 1953 and lasted throughout the decade. During these years, a combination of unique and favorable conditions coalesced: the post-war atmosphere was focused on reconstruction; Securit della Saint Gobain produced thicker plates of glass than ever before; a notable number of artisans, workers and designers were united at Fontana Arte, something Pietro Chiesa had always desired.

Lighting designs for Fontana Arte exhibited at Les Salon des Artistes Decorateurs, Paris, 1955. (Exhibition photograph by Jean Collas, Archives Michel Durand. Reproduced from Max Ingrand: Du Verre à la Lumière by Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, 2009, Éditions NORMA)

Materials and technology were changing and new and innovative forms were the result. Fontana Arte’s masters and designers no longer used "dalle" glass for only tables; lamps too were made of thick glass. Brass also was used in abundance during these years. The metal was softened and shaped by hand to align perfectly with the delicately ground edges of the glass forms. Fontana Arte’s artisanal production highlighted the expertise and craftsmanship in both metalworking and glassmaking techniques.

Max Ingrand was the artistic director at Fontana Arte at this time. He spoke only French and often his directions were left to the translation and vision of the artists such as Raimondi, Rizza, Vianello and Dubé. Many important designs were produced under Ingrand’s direction, but the nature of collaboration makes it difficult to confirm authorship.

40 Years of Lost City Arts

Jim Elkind, founder Lost City Arts—of one of the most influential design galleries in New York City—has design in his DNA. Elkind grew up in a modernist house full of mid-century modern furniture and spent many weekends traveling into New York with his mother, visiting museums and exploring the city. He fondly recalls her pointing up at the skyscrapers and their architectural details, encouraging and instilling in him a curiosity about his surroundings and an attention to detail that would go on to shape his future career.

The idea to open a gallery originally came to Elkind during a visit to the annual juried art show at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he attended college. The vetted show featured several hundred artists, many of whom, he realized, were extremely talented but would never make it into the mainstream art world. Taking a page from his entrepreneur father’s book, Elkind imagined opening a gallery in New York called the Gallery of the Unknown Artist where he would feature work by up-and-coming artists from universities around the country.