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Clay wonder: a collection of Italian ceramics highlights the work of multidisciplinary master Marcello Fantoni.

Even as a young apprentice, Florentine artist Marcello Fantoni caught the attention of many. From the age of 12, he studied ceramics with Carlo Guerrini, sculpture with Libero Andreotti and Bruno Innocenti, and drawing with Gianni Vagnetti. In the years following World War II, Fantoni would go on to head a studio in Perugia before founding his own practice, seeking to recontextualize public perception of the traditional ceramics medium.

"Fantoni focused on an object's volumes and line. He uses clay to realize his sculptures, and decorates each entire piece manually," says Frederic Chambre, vice president and chief executive of the Parisian auction house Piasa, which has organized a sale of influential postwar Italian ceramicists with a special emphasis on Fantoni's vast array of work. Seventy-two of the artist's vases, lamps, and sculptures will make rare showings on the market, with starting prices ranging from 800 to 12,000 euros. An exhibition of the pieces runs April 10 through 15, when the sale will open for bidding.

Finding inspiration in Cubism, Fantoni set out to incorporate elements of the movement's more complex and fragmented aesthetic, as pioneered by figures like Picasso and Braque. His refreshing approach to tradition led to high demand, and he is often credited with elevating ceramics to fine art. He created vases as objets, employing alluringly round forms and creating dense textures with glaze drips and interactions of color. The objects hint at modern abstraction, all while upholding functionality. Compositionally rich, his works, whether sculptures or decorative vessels, transfer some of the painting trends of his time from canvas to glazed ceramic, giving three-dimensionality to concepts that his contemporary viewers might have been used to seeing flat.

The sale of Fantoni's objects marks Piasa's fifth auction of Italian design. Among the previous artists whose works have gone up for bid are Alessandro Mazzucotelli, Umberto Bellotto, Osvaldo Borsani, and Lucio Fontana.

PORTRAIT BY NADIA ALENOV

Askov Finlayson co-founder Eric Dayton at the store in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Title Annotation:AUCTION
Author:Valinsky, Michael
Publication:Surface
Date:Apr 1, 2015
Words:328
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