Piero Fornasetti was a Milanese painter, sculptor and interior decorator. Born in 1913, he was the creator of furniture and decorative objects bearing his whimsical, classical, trompe l'oeil images. Recurring themes included the sun and harlequins, but his most famous creations probably were the items in his "theme and variations" line. These products featured the classically beautiful and enigmatic face of an opera singer named Lina Cavalieri. Her picture appeared in a 19th-century French magazine and Fornasetti used that image to create more than 350 items, including plates. Here is a collection of plates that are available at Unica Home.

Some people have compared this beautiful opera singer to the Mona Lisa. These plates remind me of Marcel Duchamp's artwork, "L. H. O. O. Q.", which Duchamp created by adding a beard and mustache to a cheap postcard image of the Mona Lisa.

Image from Wikipedia.

In fact, one of Fornasetti's plates (below) does feature Lima Cavalieri with a mustache. (Duchamp created "L.H.O.O.Q." in 1919 when Fornasetti was six years old.)


Plate images from Unica Home.

In addition to plates, Fornasetti created chests, screens and wallpaper, which are popular in decor today. Take a look. . . . 

A Piero Fornasetti screen in a new Greek Revival home built in upstate New York.
Architecture by Peter Talbot, AIA.
Interior architecture and design by Shelton, Mindel and Associates.
Photography by Michael Moran.
Architectural Digest.

Pair of circa 1950 Piero Fornasetti landscape panels in the master bedroom of a
Tudor Revival home in Austin, Texas.
Interior design by Thad Hayes.
Photography by Scott Frances.
Architectural Digest.

Piero Fornasetti screen in living room of Manhattan penthouse.
Interior design by Delphine Krakoff.
Architect: Mark Ferguson
Photography by Eric Piasecki.
Architectural Digest (May 2011.)
(The stairs in this screen remind me of the work of M.C. Escher. For copyright purposes, I will not include images of M.C. Escher's work here, but he was a graphic artist (1898 - 1972) famous for his "impossible structures" that trick the eye. I have included a link to the official M.C. Escher website so you can view images of "Up and Down", "Relativity", "Ascending and Descending" and "Waterfall", the art that comes to mind when I look at Fornasetti's stairs.)

Here we see the face of Lina Cavalieri in the Fornasetti "Teme e Variazioni" wallpaper
Manhattan apartment of interior designer Eric Cohler.
Photography by Jonny Valiant.
House Beautiful.

Although House Beautiful's website does not identify the name of this wallpaper, I am assuming that it is Fornasetti's "Ex Libris" from Cole and Son.
Bathroom in interior designer Eric Cohler's Manhattan apartment.
Photography by Jonny Valiant.
House Beautiful.

 A Piero Fornasetti cabinet in the living area of designer Steven Volpe's
San Francisco apartment.
Photography by William Abranowicz.
Elle Decor (September 2011).
(A  similar chest is available from Unica Home.)

 The closet doors in the master bedroom's dressing area are covered
in Piero Fornasetti wallpaper ("Ex Libris").
Brussels townhouse of Jorge Almada and Anne-Marie Midy, owners of Casamidy.
Photography by Simon Upton.
Elle Decor (May 2011). 

Fornasetti "Nuvole" paper by Cole and Son.
Look at the image that is reflected in this mirror.
San Francisco Row House.
Designer: Benjamin Dhong.
House Beautiful.


Post a Comment