Fornasetti Plates by Rosenthal

Published: 10th March 2008
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Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988) was known for decorating everyday objects with fanciful motifs. The most famous is the 19th-century black-and-white magazine image of a woman's face, which he adapted for a series of dinner plates. Piero Fornasetti lived and worked in Milan from 1935, when he was only twenty-two, until his death in 1988. During this long career he established an enduring reputation as a designer with a style that was all his own a style based on illusionism, architectural perspectives, and a host of personal leitmotifs, such as the sun, playing cards, fish and flowers, from which he spun seemingly endless variations.

Fornasetti applied his decorative vocabulary to an astonishing array of objects "fashion items", as he put it, "which never go out of fashion". Hats, waistcoats, pipes, ashtrays, chairs, plates, cabinets, pianos, shops, cars, ocean liners all were transformed by the application of unexpected images. A Corinthian capital is literally pressed into service as a chair back; a La Scala program cover decorates a scarf; a girl's Lace, split down the middle, adorns a plate. "He makes objects speak", said Gio Ponti, his friend and longtime collaborator. Fornasetti worked in almost every medium drawings, graphics, architecture, trompe l'oeil, themes and variations, nature.

When we discovered plates, chairs and other decorative gadgets from Fornasetti some years ago, we did not imagine, my wife and I, that a real artist lied behind all these creations. I was really impressed when I discovered in that book the beautiful face of the artist and when I learned that he would never create any more because he already passed away. Fornassetti art is mainly decorative. It pleased every body because it is an harmonius equilibrium between classical inspiration and to-day printing technologies. If you do not know where to buy furniture inspired by Fornasetti, buy this book and place it on a coffee table.

Piero Fornasetti's graphic art often re-worked a single idea over and over again, allowing his imagination run free to develop new concepts. The most famous of these ideas the Themes and Variations, illustrated variations on the image of an enigmatic, almost Mona Lisa-like face of a woman. The woman was Lina Cavalieri, whose face Fornasetti found while glancing through a 19th Century French magazine. Originally four plates were designed by Piero Fornasetti - the plate series now has 350 variations. Please purchase on online

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