Artists Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti (1891-1979) was an architect, designer, artist, teacher, writer and publisher whose name has become synonymous with postwar Italian modernism. Ponti redefined modern living through the reimagining of nearly every aspect of the built environment. His idealized vision of the new home implicitly addressed diverse but pertinent issues, from Italy’s humanist heritage to machine production.

Ponti began his career after serving on the frontlines of WWI. He was drafted while pursing a classical education in architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, but even in the midst of war found time to marvel at spatial fluidity and harmony of Palladio’s architecture. The war left him with an enthusiasm for the neoclassical that would define the start of his career at the Richard Ginori Company (1923-40) as the art director for ceramics. Largely inspired by Etruscan frescoes and Greek mythology, his ceramics were first shown at the 1923 International Exhibition of the Decorative Arts in Monza, renewing interest in the production of porcelain and majolica works. In 1925, Ponti won the Grand Prix at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes for his decoration of a room in the Grand Palais. In the Expo catalogue he stated that, “Industry is the style of the 20th century; its mode of creation.”

In 1927, Ponti opened his own practice with Emilio Lancia, exploring a holistic approach to the theme of the home while simultaneously producing low-cost furniture (like his “Domus Nova” series for the department store La Riascente). Ponti’s preoccupation with the promotion of the household use of the modern decorative arts was shared by a group of likeminded designers, including Tamaso Buzzi, Pietro Chiesa, & Paolo Venini, who called themselves Il Labirinto. In 1928, Ponti began publishing his polemical magazine, Domus, which became a “living diary” to him, chronicling and advertising his own work, as well as a platform for the formulation and popularization of new architectural and design ideas. Domus presented all schools from the traditional to the avant-garde without being dogmatic. Dubbed the “Mediterranean Megaphone,” Domus lauded mass-production, fostered a new camaraderie between architects and artisans, and bolstered the careers of many now renowned designers like Piero Fornasetti and Angelo Lelii.

Throughout the 1930s, Ponti was instrumental in the organization of the first Milan Triennials, another manifestation of Domus & Il Labirinto’s unifying impetus. He also then began teaching at the Milan Polytechnic, his alma mater, and founded Fontana Arte with Pietro Chiesa & Luigi Fontana, becoming art director in 1932. Ponti left Domus for eight years from 1940 to 1948 to begin his other journal, Stile, in which he could focus on art and the impact of WWII on Italian architecture. His earnest and urgent need to examine the transformative properties of design impelled him to publish under 23 pseudonyms despite the bombings. In the early postwar years, Ponti was intensely involved in the theory and practice of reconstruction, offering new visions of prosperity across the economic spectrum. During this time he also collaborated with Paolo Venini to produce a series of blown glass bottles and a multi-colored glass chandelier. In the 1950s, Ponti designed sinks, toilets, and bathroom fixtures for Ideal Standard, erected his obelisk inspired Pireli Tower (1956) in Milan, and instated the Compasso d’Oro industrial design award. He presented his most famous piece of furniture, the ladderback “Superleggera” chair, in 1957, so extraordinarily light that it could be picked up with one finger.

Ponti considered each aspect of the environment with equal weight, whether it be small scale serial production, industrial manufacture, or an entire building. Ponti’s career was so pivotal because from it emerged a new agency for the individual consumer to participate in the historical transformation of design we now call modernism through their personal choices. Through his own work, he encouraged his readers to tailor their homes to their own particular needs. Ponti’s reinterpretation of the classic that prioritized order, ease of use, and material integrity itself became classic. Late in his life, Ponti wrote, ”Time is measured (even 'created') only by the transformation of things. Where things do not change, time does not exist and history does not exist.” Despite having a personal aesthetic steeped in classical tradition, Ponti encouraged constant evolution. Ponti’s works are currently held in the collections of The MoMA in New York, the V&A in London, the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

From the collection :

  • Dahlia Chandelier $ 95,000

    Max Ingrand (1908-1969)
    Code : N-11516

    Dahlia Chandelier

    Max Ingrand (1908-1969)
    Code : N-11516

    $95,000

  • Vase $ 4,500

    Gio Ponti for Richard Ginori
    Code : N-11480

    Vase

    Gio Ponti for Richard Ginori
    Code : N-11480

    $4,500

  • Vase $ 14,500

    Gio Ponti (1891-1979)
    Code : N-10100

    Vase

    Gio Ponti (1891-1979)
    Code : N-10100

    $14,500

  • Fontana Arte $ 125

    Author Franco Deboni, foreword by Bernd Goeckler
    Code : Fontana Arte

    Fontana Arte

    Author Franco Deboni, foreword by Bernd Goeckler
    Code : Fontana Arte

    $125