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The imagination and genius of Bruno Munari

Bruno Munari taught and strongly contributed to the Italian and international design of the 20th century. He was such a versatile artist that he can be considered a Renaissance man, a term used to describe a very clever person who is good at many things.

In his eclectic research, Munari was able to melt theory and practice to unveil, with the brilliance and elegance that distinguished his personality, the inner workings and the magic of imagination that led to invention.

Short biography

Munari was born in Milan in 1907, where he started his artistic career as a graphic designer in 1926. In the same period, he came into contact with Second Futurism and then with the abstractionists of the Milanese gallery Il Milione where, in 1933, he organized his first solo exhibition showing his Useless Machine. In 1948, he was one of the founders of MAC, which in Italian stands for “Movimento d’Arte Concreta” (Concrete Art Movement).

In the 50s his kinetic research, together with artworks such as the Concave – Convex sculptures and his Negative – Positive paintings, shows his incessant art experimentation that made him one of the precursors of Optical Art. Throughout his wealthy career, difficult to summarise in a few words, he gained numerous and prestigious awards, including the Golden Compass Award of the Association for the Industrial Design. He won it four times between 1954 and 1995; the last one he received, three years before his death, was in honour of his career.

Bruno Munari_Scultura pieghevole rossa
Bruno Munari, scultura pieghevole rossa, 1951.

His research on shapes and colours at the service of industrial design

Munari gleaned from his imagination simple and conceptual forms, expressed through a range of colours that are variable but limited, in order to design, more or less, conventional objects, such as lamps or the famous Talking Forks, deformed steel cutlery that seem to be alive. These objects have a double meaning: they are useful in daily life, but they also want to encourage users to think about their aesthetic worth, as a result of the compromise between technique and art, repetitiveness and creative instinct.

Munari’s true calling: communication

Inspired by an incessant curiosity for knowledge, he was passionate about the pleasure to understand and let others understand. The creative process of the Italian designer was driven by the idea that real progress consists in making things easier. Simplify by subtraction rather than by accumulation, as Coco Chanel said “Less is more”. Decode what is difficult to understand, in other words, explain. Bruno Munari was a master in doing this, he educated both adults and children on the importance of beauty by means of thought and things.

Communicate the beauty from childhood

Fantasy, imagination, creativity, invention: universal concepts that Munari explored since the 40s, in order to communicate them especially to children. Author, graphic designer, children’s book illustrator, educational game creator, in 1977 he was the father of the first creative workshop for children at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. Munari’s art is game, a mixture of genius and lightness born thanks to the astonishment of its creator and that, at the same time, surprises those who benefit from it.

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