MILAN, Italy – Italian artist and designer Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988) was born in Milan, a city that has produced many gifted designers. While studying painting and traveling to Africa, Fornasetti absorbed many influences, from classic to surrealism and exhibited a fondness for vivid colors. His early paintings were scenes on silk scarves, which he exhibited at the Milan Triennale in 1933.
His paintings attracted the interest of Gio Ponti (1891-1979), who was the leading figure in the Italian design world at the time. They began to collaborate on diverse projects. In 1950, the duo decorated the Casino in San Remo on the Ligurian Riviera. They also teamed up on interior design for the celebrated Italian luxury liner S.S. Andrea Doria, launched in June 1951.
Because Fornasetti was such a prolific and diverse designer, collectors must navigate a minefield of past and present production. And – with the help of experts – they must learn to distinguish between the genuine article and lookalikes and to separate plentiful from rare examples. Trusted auction houses often are the best sources when seeking authentic pieces.
Fornasetti’s major works can bring six figures. Fornasetti-style pieces made during the designer’s lifetime and in the years since his death range from faithful replicas of important furnishings Fornasetti-like architectural prints applied to all sorts of objects large and small. This raises the value of authenticated designs produced during his lifetime, especially unique examples and one-off commissions.
The best visual introduction to the senior Fornasetti’s creative production is a tour of the innovative website created by his son Barnaba Fornasetti, www.fornasetti.com.