Enzo Mari, Progetto grafico di tessuto per la XI Triennale di Milano

March 28, 2018

In 1957, Enzo Mari was active on many fronts. As an artist, he kept working on his research on perception, and he inaugurated his first exhibition at Studio B24. He also worked on the graphic design of the texts that accompanied the exhibition Il Pensiero Scientifico in Italia, which was designed by the Castiglioni brothers at Milan’s Castello Sforzesco. Furthermore, he began thinking about his project on games, with the models for 16 Animali and for his Gioco delle Favole. Mari’s collaboration with the company Danese would begin just a year later, and these were also the times in which he designed expo stands, advertising projects for Studio Boggeri, and fashion accessories such as foulards. Within this whirlwind of activities, Mari also found the time to take part in the 9th Milan Triennial, a particularly debated edition of this event. We can bring it back to the surface of history thanks to the archives of the Fondazione Massimo e Sonia Cirulli, and in particular thanks to some of the fabric designs that Mari prepared for that event. The 1957 Triennial included two specific subsections of the Mostra delle produzioni d’arte (Exhibition of artistic productions): one section, dedicated to fabrics for home furnishing, was held in a pavilion of Milan’s Parco Sempione; the other, dedicated to tapestries and carpets, took place in the Palazzo dell’Arte. Mari took part in this exhibition alongside some of the most famous designers of that generation, among whom Ettore Sottsass and Roberto Sambonet. This fact testifies to the existence of a shared vision that animated the mind of these individuals—a vision that can be found in the exhibitions and competitions documented by the collections of the Fondazione Cirulli, as well as in the many articles and essays that appeared over the years on the pages of the journal “Domus”. This shared vision, indeed, is one declination of the vast and continuous dialogue that took place during those years between the world of industry and designers. On the one side, the world of industry frequently patronized events and prizes for artistic designs that would find a way into mass production; on the other side, designers sought to implement visual solutions close to the artistic research of the time, and very often they contributed directly to the world of the visual arts, as was the case for Mari. Understood in the context of such broader artistic coordinates, these design projects take on a new value, as these little-known objects offer us an opportunity to shed new light on the very rich and complex visual culture of Postwar Italy.

Marco Scotti