Over its two-hundred-year history, the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera has had a relationship with the city of Milan and the entire Lombardy area that has been constantly characterized by its relations with the furniture industry, evidenced in the great houses of the nobility and bourgeoisie, from palaces in the center to large countryside and lakefront villas. In the Brera Archive, we conserve a heritage of papers and projects that testify to the vast production of artworks and furniture, pictorial and sculptural decorations, and extensive documentation about how, from the Masters to the Accademia’s studios, paintings and sculptures arrived in the houses, living rooms and private rooms of Milan and Lombardy, as well as the aesthetics of the home. The current project is based on this widely documented and studied subject. Personally, I remember the testimonies of teachers at the Accademia who experienced the development of art at the turn of the Second World War; from Raffaellino De Grada to Giancarlo Marchese, they spoke of how Brianza’s growing furniture industry constantly referred to the Accademia’s artists, particularly in the fields of decorative arts and sculpture. Indeed, many artists, especially in the first half of the 20th century, collaborated with small and large Brianza furniture companies. Following this tradition, these collaborations increased in the ’50s and especially the ’60s-’70. It is wellknown how important figures like Marino Marini, Lucio Fontana and Agenore Fabbri were, as well as artists who established relationships and actively worked with the contemporary design sector. Continuing this history and the relationship with furniture culture, the Accademia di Brera has shown a way to consolidate these experiences and to reclaim sharing solutions. Hence the idea that our youngest artists revisit the full array of Brianza’s industrial and artisan production. The works that we have published and displayed in the exhibition are the result of this encounters based on a free expressive re-examination.
The collaboration with IFDM has been positively active – in the important context of the magazine’s 10th anniversary, in order to further strengthen its attention to the design and furniture sector – through an ideas competition involving over 200 candidates: the various artists chose from a list of decorative objects and did some preparatory sketches using all current techniques, from watercolor to collage, from photography to design. An object and the name of a young artist were paired together and they then went to the workshop, finally setting up an exhibition featuring 19 distinct creations, alongside 11 canvases that tell a story in images of the magazine’s growth, year after year.
I joined the project because I shared this moment of encounter between two worlds that are formally distant, but conceptually very close. In both worlds, the pursuit of beauty and commitment to raising the quality level through the aesthetic of everyday life is a primary fact. I thought it was courageous that IFDM risked interfering with the creative action of a product that was already made, already the result of experimentation and research into the international market; on the other hand, the contribution of the young artist is necessarily experimental.
The object, whether it be a bed, sofa or an armchair, is a plastic element made up of forms, colors, dimensions and surfaces, inevitably developing in the privileged context of painting. Every young artist sees the product that they have chosen as a meeting place, a form of interview, addition, overlaying, but also devastation, which they question.
The result is an everyday object that reveals itself, in the hands of a young artist, to be a new object, holding within it all the potential of renewal, change and transformation.