Image: Alberi (trees) fabric by Enrico Paulucci delle Roncole, 1964.
The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London is showing an exhibition (until April 2021) celebrating MITA (Manifattura Italiana Tappeti Artistici). Founded in Genoa in 1926, MITA was a celebrated Italian textile firm that earned its reputation by collaborating with some of Italy’s most talented artists and designers. The Italian Threads exhibition showcases 50 years of bold commissions produced for world art fairs, private homes, clubs and ocean liners, encompassing the avant-garde movements of the day from Futurism to Abstract Expressionism.
Image: Design for Gabbiani (seagulls) scarf by Enrico Paulucci delle Roncole, 1960.
Reflecting the expert craftsmanship and full diversity of MITA’s production, the exhibition features original works, designs and photographs illustrating the firm’s remarkable output. It includes rugs, carpets, tapestries, limited-edition art panels, printed fabrics, scarves and major commissions that carried the banner of modernism from the 1920s to the 1970s. The show traces an evolution of taste; MITA’s textiles travelled around the world, were shown in influential art exhibitions and defined the interior design of major Italian ocean liners (which Gio Ponti considered “floating art galleries”), as well as bringing the avant-garde into everyday life.
Image: Rosoni (geometric roses) textile design by Flavio Costantini, 1962.
Founded by Mario Alberto Ponis, MITA was formed “with the aim of using new mechanical inventions in the manufacture of classic hand-knotted carpets”, merging new technologies with craft traditions for a characteristically Italian approach to industry. MITA began collaborating with creative thinkers at the forefront of modernism who produced rug patterns and designs that captured the aesthetic spirit of Futurism, Rationalism and the Novecento movement. After the Second World War, MITA greatly expanded its offerings beyond carpets and rugs to include tapestries, fabrics and other products. Collaborating with the most inventive and experimental artists of the period – many of them associated with the magazine Domus –Ponis extended MITA’s visual vocabulary to include geometric abstraction and graphic illustration, vividly realized in limited-edition art panels printed on hemp or linen and signed by the artists.
Until we can visit in person again, enjoy an online introduction lecture with Estorick Collection's Director Roberta Cremoncini in conversation with exhibition curators Matteo Fochessati and Gianni Franzone, from the Wolfsoniana in Genoa.
For more information visit www.estorickcollection.com