“There should be no such thing as art divorced from life, with beautiful things to look at and hideous things to use.”
“Today it has become necessary to demolish the myth of the ‘star’ artist who only produces masterpieces for a small group of ultra-intelligent people. It must be understood that as long as art stands aside from the problems of life it will only interest a very few people. Culture today is becoming a mass affair, and the artist must step down from his pedestal and be prepared to make a sign for a butcher’s shop (if he knows how to do it). The artist must cast off the last rags of romanticism and become active as a man among men, well up in present-day techniques, materials and working methods. Without losing his innate aesthetic sense he must be able to respond with humility and competence to the demands his neighbors may make of him.
"The designer of today re-establishes the long-lost contact between art and the public, between living people and art as a living thing. There should be no such thing as art divorced from life, with beautiful things to look at and hideous things to use. If what we use every day is made with art, and not thrown together by chance or caprice, then we shall have nothing to hide.” — Bruno Munari, Design as Art
These are the opening words to the first chapter of Bruno Munari’s famed book, “Design as Art”, wherein Munari asks us to consider design as the necessary link between utilitarianism and romanticism. His raison d’être became building this bridge, whether it was through his work as a painter, sculptor, industrial or graphic designer. Assuming the role of the latter in particular, Munari found himself contributing to a field that was as much trade as it was ‘fine’ art, proving to be only natural that one should seek to “re-establish the long-lost contact between art and the public”.
The images we show here are our attempt to capture the scope of Munari’s work across these multiple disciplines. As a member of the Italian futurist movement, he was motivated by the advances afforded to society after a period of immense technological growth. The world was emerging from a rather stale and elitist period as it came out of the late nineteenth century. Art and design produced under this new wave of futurist thought assumed in contrast an apparent dynamism, focusing itself on such themes as speed, movement and efficiency in both style and mechanics. Munari’s works, for example, always included multiple moveable components. Often these were tactile portions with which the viewer was meant to interact. But even his printed works were layered and collaged, playful and informative