Salvatore Licitra, the grandson of the architect and designer Gio Ponti (1891-1979) is one of the curators of the retrospective, which opens at MAD-Paris on this creator, considered one of the spiritual fathers of Italian design. Meeting under the nave of the museum, in Paris.
For this first retrospective devoted to French your grand-father, what is your feeling ?
The exhibition “Tutto Ponti, Gio Ponti arch-designer” is the fruit of two years of work and presents in chronological order the six decades of the career of my grand-father, with a route of three parts : the object, the furniture and the architecture. For me, this is an exhibition very French, even if we are two trustees to the French, Dominique Forest and Sophie Bouilhet-Dumas, and two Italians, Francesco Pastore and myself. Here there is a taste very parisian to the work of Gio Ponti, as the rooms devoted to decorative arts, with his designs for the porcelain Richard Ginori, for the silversmith Christofle or the glass-maker Fontana. The will is to be informative and educational. The work of Gio Ponti is so gigantic that you can approach it, in effect, under different angles.
What would you do ideally ?
My personal point of view ? It would have been closer to the creations of different periods, so as to penetrate the secrets of the artist. And the chair SuperLeggera from 1957, I would have flanked the chair Gabriela 1971, the seat is wide but very narrow. “I want people to remember me as the creator of the Gabriela “, said my grand-father at the end of his life. It made it possible to sit in new positions, a little relaxed and low to the ground, according to his desires.
What is your favorite period ?
I love the furnishings of a new series Apta that it was designed for the young people of the 1970s, including the living spaces – had-t-he noticed – were increasingly restricted. Gio Ponti was an old man when he has done that, and it was fun as a kid ! He imagines these pieces of furniture all on wheels, tables high and low that unfold or close as origami and all in cheap materials, offered in 5 or 6 colours pop item I have a preference for this small office on wheels is on loan from the Vitra Collection : it was intended to work in two, with its two armchairs attached to the piece of furniture, such as a compact unit. With computers-tablets of today, he would not have to blush !
How do you explain the longevity of his work, which has fascinated architects and designers from around the world ?
Gio Ponti is put in the place of the user of a place or the viewer of a building. On his preparatory drawings, one can see big lines he has drawn in his hand, that render the field of view of the people in each space. It was like a film director. Moreover, the theatre and the cinema were some of her passions, as you can see in one of the rooms of the exhibition at MAD-Paris : he has made costumes, scenarios, decors, especially for the Scala of Milan… He had made, and of visual perception as one of the cornerstones of his work. With this special look, between the detachment of a stage director or a composer and the freedom of a true artist, he has built a work anticipating on a contemporary way of perceiving the architecture, the colors, the spaces and the design.