Fortunato Depero

Portrait of Gilbert Clavel



Depero, was born in Fondo (Trento) in 1892. After his studies at the Scuola Reale Elisabettiana in Rovereto, in 1913 he settled in Rome, where he became an active member of the Futurist movement and met Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Giacomo Balla, with whom he published the manifesto Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe in 1915. During the war, he composed poetry in "onomalingua”, a language he invented, and drew plans for Futurist visionary architecture. In 1916-17, Depero met Sergej Diaghilev and was commissioned to do set designs and costumes for The Song of the Nightingale by Igor Stravinsky. Although never realized, it marked the beginning of Depero's long involvement with theater. At the same time, he collaborated with the Swiss writer Gilbert Clavel on the ‘Teatro Plastico’, where actors and dancers are substituted by wood puppet.

In his own paintings, Depero depicted a fantastic world of vegetal, animal and mechanical forms, in a dynamic synthesis of large, flat areas of bright color. In 1919 he founded the Casa d'Arte Futurista in Rovereto, where he produced furniture, objects, graphics, posters and tapestries, with his wife Rosetta. During the 1920s Depero spent some months in Paris, where he showed in the Italian pavilion of the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, with Balla and Prampolini. Depero experimented with built structures designed out of letters-what he termed "typographical" or "advertising architecture."

From 1928 to 1930 the artist lived in New York, where he gave solo exhibitions and worked on costumes and sets for theatre. In 1932 he authored the Manifesto dell’arte pubblicitaria futurista (Manifesto of Futurist Advertising Art). During this years he worked as graphic designer for magazines and newspapers. He continued this activity in Italy, designing covers for Emporium, La Rivista (1927) and Vogue (1929). After the World War II, despite hostile criticism against Futurism, Depero continued to paint and in 1956 he started the project for a futurist museum opened in 1959.The artist died in Rovereto in 1960.

credits: Hangar Design Group