Bruno Munari

“There should be no such thing as art divorced from life, with beautiful things to look at and hideous things to use.”

04.1.2021

“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

Images of reality 1977
L'Ora X Clock, 1945, via MoMA
Singer Chair
Talking Forks
Girondella Kinetic Object, 1965, via MoMA
Flexi, 1968, via Artsy
Speak Italian
Macchina inutile, 1956-70, via Frieze
Negativo-Positivo, via Artsy
Square, Circle, Triangle
Untitled, 1951, via MoMA
Bali Lamp
Scultura da viaggio, 1959, via Frieze
Pirelli, Suola Coria, 1953, via MoMA
Macchina Inutile mobile, 1984, via Wright
Campari, 1965, via Artsy
Cubo Ashtray, 1957, via Artsy
Fork, 1958, via MoMA
Textile designs for the 10th Milan Triennale, 1954, via MoMA
Acona Biconbi Lamp
Macchina Inutile
ABC con fantasia, 1960, Courtesy of MoMA
Illustrations from Design as Art
Abitacolo bed and shelving unit for Robots, 1971
Drawing a Tree
Falkland hanging light fixtures, 1964, via Artsy
Untitled, 1951, via MoMA
Biplano carts for Robots
Negativo-Positivo, 1951, via Frieze
Zoo, via Casati
Bruno Munari With Cut Out
Coccodrillo Calendar, Wright Auction
Stromboli Candlestick, Wright Auction
Maldive Dish Model 2019b, Wright Auction
Lampada Esagonale Chandelier, Wright Auction
Labirinto Game Model 2051a, Wright Auction
Maldive Tray Model 2019, Wright Auction
ABC Con Fantasia Game Model 2011b, Wright Auction