Gaetano Pesce: innovation is never conventional

The story of one of the most unconventional artist and designer of our time.

The life of Gaetano Pesce is tightly connected to the sea. Not just because of his name (Pesce means literally fish in Italian), but also because of the city he was Born in: La Spezia, a small city on the coast of Liguria, in Italy. It was also another seaside city that contributed to his formation: Venezia, where he attended the Iauv University, a very famous Italian design school where Carlo Scarpa was a professor.

Gaetano Pesce is not just an extraordinary and designer but also a polyhedric artist: architect, sculptor and designer.

A genius constantly looking for new materials to produce his ideas and give a shape to his most evocative ideas. Since more than 40 years he applies his fantasy to objects and structures of any shape: from glasses to sofas, from chairs to jewels and then vases, sculptures, tables, dishes and even houses and buildings.

The philosophy of Gaetano Pesce is hardly definable with a precise scheme because it is based on flexibility, both physical and mental. With his art pieces he wants to give motion to thoughts, start a process of interpration that is potentially unlimited.

One of the main feature of Gaetano is since the beginning of his carreer the will of non belonging, either to a style or to an aesthetic or artistic category, and the introduction of narrative into design and architecture. Narrative that is not just figuration, something that many other architects already used into the association of shape and function, but narrative itself, in his artistic meaning.

Half a century went by since 1969, when Gaetano presented at Salone del Mobile in Milan “Up 5”, the iconic sofa in the shape of a female body with a ball tied to the sofa that works as a footrest. That could be seen as the denunciation of the submission and segregation in which many women were (and still are) forced to live in some areas of the world. So that whoever saw that sofa back in 1969 already understood that that was not just a simple sofa but that it would become a style icon. And that is exactly what happened.

Innovation. This is Pesce’s obsession when he founded in Padua in 1959 the movement called Group N, that starts a confrontation and a discussion with many other important artistic movements all over the world.

In1972 he takes part to an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York called “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape”.

In 2014 the museum Maxxi in Rome organized a tribute exhibition “the time of diversity” to the unconventional designer, in which many sketches, drawings, models and design objects have been exposed. But even before that, in 1996, a retrospective about the artist had been organized in Paris at the Centre Pompidou.

“I’m convinced that design is becoming more and more a real art, and most of all for the young people in the USA are recognizing that. This is the direction in which we are going, ”.

Gaetano Pesce now lives in New York. Since 1983 he moved to the big apple but his mind and his always in Italy, his country. That Italy crucified like he shows in one of his most famous art pieces.

So, when he came back to Milan for the Expo, his words sounded like a warning that was left unheard:“We have a huge artistic heritage that is mostly lying in the basement of our museums” he said in an interview to Repubblica – “Let’s show it to the world, let’s rent it to those who envy it and who would give value, save it and cure it and who would produce richness also for us. We don’t even have the excuse of the risk in shipment. I, myself ship my pieces all the time and can testify that the transportation of art pieces is excellent.”.