Italian Jewelry of the 20th Century

Exhibition  /  24 Nov 2016  -  16 Mar 2017
Published: 18.01.2017

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With this precious exhibition - says Annalisa Zanni, Director of the Museum - the Poldi Pezzoli has chosen to continue in its commitment for the valorisation of decorative arts and craftsmanship, always characterizing the identity of Italian production, thanks to the quality of the works and to the skill of great artists. This choice allows also highlighting the richness and the variety of the collections that made Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli house-museum famous in the world.
The exhibition, curated  by the jewelry historian Melissa Gabardi and by the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, illustrates, for the first time, the Italian production in the 20th century, following its evolution through chronological sections: New Historicism, Liberty, Art Déco, 1930s,1940s,1950s 1960s,1970s,1980s and 1990s production: a journey into the birth of the Made in Italy. The archive researches by Melissa Gabardi revealed the Italian technical excellence and the perfect organization of jewelry workshops, rewriting the history of Italian jewellers, often working in family business, nowadays at the third or fourth generation.  
On show many precious objects - tiaras, umbilical necklaces, rings, bracelets, brooches and earrings - all by famous Italian jewellers: Mario and then Gianmaria Buccellati, the Milanese Alfredo Ravasco (some of his works are exhibited for the first time), the Genoese  Filippo Chiappe, Musy from Turin, the Roman Petochi , the Milanese Cusi ,Codognato with its “new archeological style”, the Ascione family with their coral jewels.  
The 1940s items by famous names as Cusi, Chantecler and Illario show how war influenced the choice of materials and shapes.

The exhibition presents also the works, inspired by artistic movements, created by the Roman jeweller Mario Masenza in collaboration with painters and sculptors as, among others, Afro and Cannilla; as well as examples of the experimentation for the “new jewels” started by the brothers Arnaldo and Giò Pomodoro. Particular attention is focused on the 1960s and the 1970s, with the birth of Bulgari new style, able to challenge the French jewelry supremacy and to influence the international trend. In the 1980s and 1990s, the indisputable success of “Made in Italy” fashion brought to a massive diffusion of precious objects: jewels were intended to be worn all day long, as some creations by Pomellato, Giò Caroli and Rivière. 
Another highlight of the exhibition is the section dedicated to the jewelry especially created for the Scala Theatre, with a selection of pieces, worn both by artists and by members of Milanese and Italian high society. A real parade of luxury, typical of the years after the Second World War.

The exhibition ends with a selection of works by the Padua School, renowned as an important research centre for new trends in jewelry. 

The jewels have been studied in their historical, social and economic context, with a special attention to their contemporary artistic world (fashion, design and architecture) as well as to the events and the trendsetters, especially the members of royal families and the movie stars who inspired the collective taste. The ambitious project of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum aims to illustrate how the history of 20th century Italian jewelry and jewellers traces an interesting path. While in the first half of the 20th century, Italian creativity was often influenced by French production, in the second half of the century it clearly followed an independent route. This was possible thanks to the great skill and creativity of many talented jewellers, who made Italian jewelry - the “Made in Italy”- an international point of reference. As last year, on the occasion of the Macchiaioli exhibition, the project for the setting has been assigned to a young woman recently graduated in Interior Design at the School of Design of Politecnico of Milan, Berfu Bengisu Gören, winner of a contest under the aegis of Professor Beppe Finessi. To enhance the pieces on show, the setting focuses on their preciousness and their techniques. The aim is to allow visitors not only to appreciate the exhibits, their artistic and social context and their stylistic peculiarities, but also to understand their connections to contemporary events. 

Thanks to the collaboration with Canon Italia S.p.a., Digital Imaging Partner, HD technological and multimedia devices offer the public a deeper knowledge of the technique of goldsmith manufacturing and the timeless beauty of jewels. Canon A/R (augmented reality app) enable the visitors to discover the phases of the creation of the precious objects. Videos by the students of Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia- Sede Lombardia with contribution by Gian Luca Bauzano, Stefano Papi and James Rivière illustrate techniques and changes of fashion along the 20th century, as well as the history of some of the most peculiar pieces. 

Visitors will receive a free copy of Breve guida alle tecniche in gioielleria curated by Lia Lenti and published thanks to Fondazione Cologni Mestieri d’Arte and to L’école -Van Cleef & Arpels. 

A book curated by Melissa Gabardi, published by Silvana Editoriale, gathers 350 unreleased pictures, 80 biographies of the jewellers and an extensive glossary. 

Educational workshops about jewelry curated by Milanese craftsmen: in collaboration with  Fondazione Cologni Mestieri d’Arte. 
GianCarlo Montebello. Ring: Morgana, 1980. White gold, cut gems in red gold, 18 carat gold.. GianCarlo Montebello
Ring: Morgana, 1980
White gold, cut gems in red gold, 18 carat gold.
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GianCarlo Montebello. Bracelet: Ginevra, 1982. Framework, talons and rivets in yellow gold, surface in brushed white gold plate, metal gem in white gold cut, satin finish, 18 carat gold.. GianCarlo Montebello
Bracelet: Ginevra, 1982
Framework, talons and rivets in yellow gold, surface in brushed white gold plate, metal gem in white gold cut, satin finish, 18 carat gold.
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Bracelet from 1910, Rome, Unknown Artist and Painting from Botticelli, ca. 1482.
Bracelet from 1910, Rome, Unknown Artist and Painting from Botticelli, ca. 1482

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