May 19, 2013


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Lot 263: Gio Ponti

Lot 263: Gio Ponti

Gli Amanti plate

Designed and executed 1925
Transfer printed porcelain
Retains facsimile signature "Gio Ponti 1925", "Richard * Ginori", "Richard-Ginori Pittoria di Doccia 1924", "Made in Italy" and "Gli Amanti 1925"
1" x 12.87" diameter
LAMA would like to thank Oliva Rucellai at the Museo Richard-Ginori, Florence, for her assistance in the cataloging of this work
Provenance: Private Collection, Italy;
Private Collection, United States;
Thence by descent
Literature: Richard-Ginori, Ceramiche Moderne d'Arte Capizzano. Manufacturer's Catalogue. Milan: 1930. p 30; La Pietra, Ugo. Gio Ponti. Milan: Rizzoli, 1988. p 21.
Estimate: $7,000 - $10,000
Price Realized: $7,500
Inventory Id: 5698

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This model was exhibited at the Paris Exposition, 1925, where Gio Ponti was awarded the Grand Prix for his neoclassical designs for Richard-Ginori. The nature and number of marks on this example together with the signature of Gio Ponti, dated 1925 indicate the strong possibility that this particular example was made to be shown at the Paris Exposition. Loris Manna writes, “...priority was given to the destination of wares, the more prestigious it was the richer was the marking” (Manna 14). The Made in Italy mark on this piece – which is highly unusual on porcelain models – further supports this theory. An internal Richard-Ginori memorandum stated: “The head office wrote that the pieces for Paris must be marked as Made in Italy or better, in my opinion, Fabbricato in Italia. Please add this writing to our markings in a clear and correct way” (June 4th, 1925).

Catalogue Essay:
One of the most remarkable designers and architects of the 20th century, Gio Ponti (1891-1979) strived to enhance every aspect of our environment, from buildings, furniture, and ceramics, to glass, silverware, and industrial products. Among his architectural marvels, the Pirelli Tower in Milan (1956) and the Denver Art Museum (1971) rank as two of his most famous constructions. While his architecture reached an unparalleled level of artistic achievement, he was equally adept in any medium, and his work ethic matched his prowess. When he was well into his 70s, Ponti worked an average of twenty hours per day, adhering to his principle, “Think at night and work during the day.” In the forward to the double issue of Design Quarterly dedicated to Ponti, Charles Eames described the tireless innovator’s genius: “In this process of design or growth, where he anticipates and relives the experience that others will have – in this enthusiasm – he surely thinks of all people as rich human beings possessing those same capabilities and sensitiveness to experience that are his own. This is the only way – and this is the secret.” This secret of Ponti the artist-philosopher, in any project and medium, guided him in the achievement of form, beauty, and function.

Gio Ponti was an architect who began with ceramics. One of his many design maxims applies here: “In each different thing, there is always the same process and the same hand.” At the age of 32 and just two years after he graduated from the Politecnico di Milano, Ponti was hired as the artistic director at the Societa Ceramica Richard-Ginori where he was given free reign to revamp the entire design process. He articulated his design acumen in every aspect of the operation, from designing the ceramics to directing photography and marketing the final product. The beautifully crafted result, the Richard-Ginori catalogue, presented photographs of the entire inventory – some even in color – that the company could display at exhibitions and trade shows, events that Ponti was also instrumental in organizing. This multi-faceted and modern design approach precluded the marketing practices that would become standard in the second half of the century. Ponti’s Gli Amanti (1925) was most likely included in the Exposition Universelle in Paris where Ponti received the Grand Prix from an international jury for a Richard-Ginori stand. Two years later, Ponti’s name appears in the exhibition literature at the Monza Biennale, marking the beginning of the Gio Ponti brand. The porcelain plate, l’Amore della Antichita was produced in 1928; however, it carries two Ponti signatures from 1927 to commemorate his success at Monza. A contemporary account of the 1927 exhibition describes the porcelain on display: “They have a unity of style, and stand out among thousands, and have risen to the level of the best and most celebrated manufacturers of art ceramics in Europe.” Ponti continued producing the Richard-Ginori catalogue until 1930, using the publication as a springboard for the release of the first issue of his highly influential architecture magazine Domus in 1928. Ponti employed this passionate, streamlined approach – one that considered each multilayered aspect and possible outcome – for every project, from magazine layouts and furniture design to industrial products and massive skyscrapers. He worked from the ground upwards to examine life improved because ultimately, according to Charles Eames, he “practiced architecture in all his work.”

Eames, Charles. Foreward. The Expression of Gio Ponti. Design Quarterly 69/70. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1967. Print.Matteoni, Dario. Gio Ponti: Fascination for Ceramics. Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2011. Print.