Cleto Munari and "The obsession with Beauty"

On display in Treviso 50 years of creations by the designer "of designers"

by Pamela Zamberlan
Cleto Munari and “The obsession with Beauty” — Veneto Secrets

Born in Gorizia, in 50 years of artistic production, till July 2022 on display in Treviso at the Santa Caterina Museum, Cleto Munari has marked the history of Italian design, working with all the great designers of the 20th century, from Carlo Scarpa to Giò Ponti.

Beauty fascinates him right away but, professionally speaking, his “call” comes when Cleto is already over 40 years old. It is 1971, friends involve him in their pewter company and, bewitched by the world of design, he begins to frequent its protagonists.

In 1973, the artistic turning point: he became friends with Carlo Scarpa, practically the greatest Italian designer of the 1900s, who thrilled him to the point of devoting himself completely to the creation and experimentation of new shapes and objects through his company Cleto Munari. To do so, brilliant both in the ease with which he establishes relationships and in the choice of his “designers”, he not only designs himself but at the same time excels in the art of “capturing” beauty.

Cleto Munari and “The obsession with Beauty” — Veneto Secrets

The creation of Beauty takes time, it cannot be subordinated to money or haste.

(Cleto Munari)

Over the years, in fact, he has collected, with incredible flair, collaborations with all the great Italian designers of the 20th century, from Carlo Scarpa himself to Ettore Sottsass, from Alessandro Mendini to Hans Hollein, from Arata Isozaki to Angelo Mangiarotti, from Oscar Niemeyer to Max Bill, just to name a few. A uniqueness that makes Cleto a remarkable model, tireless creator of his ideas and of those of artists who have made the history of international design.

Until July 17, 2022, curated by Luciano Setten and Paola Bellin for [e] DesignFestival, at the Santa Caterina Museum in Treviso, over 80 of his works are on display, a real journey through the history of Italian design. Many realizations that today may seem “obvious”, are born, in fact, from visionary ideas created for the first time by Cleto Munari.

Cleto Munari and “The obsession with Beauty” — Veneto Secrets

How, for example, to combine goldsmith art and architecture. In 1982, he was among the first to launch a collection of jewels designed by famous people, today also part of the permanent collection of the Vicenza Jewelery Museum for their historical importance, including the beautiful “Open Book”, by Ettore Sottsass, or the “Marylin”, which he designed and dedicated to the famous American actress Marilyn Monroe, in the shape of a drawer that hides a diamond pave.

Or combine art and “cult” objects, like the Porsche Carrera Cleto Munari 911 from 1998 created together with Mimmo Palladino, Cesar Pelli, Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsass, giving life to the fastest work of art in the world, or in 2012 the “Aprés Veronese” collection with which, for the first time, 12 artists and architects, from Massimiliano Fuksas to Richard Meier, reinterpreted one of the most iconic vases of the Murano glass industry, the Veronese vase created in 1921 by Venini based on a design by the famous painter Paolo Veronese.

Cleto Munari and “The obsession with Beauty” — Veneto Secrets

From his master Carlo Scarpa, Munari absorbed not only the love for the design of an object, but above all the art of its realization which he follows with maniacal passion by searching for the best craftsmen in Italy. A choice that led his production to be normally limited to a small number of specimens, thus increasing his artistic value even more.

In addition to those already mentioned, there are many objects in which Munari has tried his hand, divided into thematic sections in the exhibition, such as tapestries, tables, ceramics, glasses…All wonderfully designed starting from the strength of an idea.

For further info

Cleto Munari website


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