Bruno Munari (Milan, 1907-1998).
“Artist, writer, inventor, designer, architect, and illustrator,” as he described himself, Bruno Munari began his career as a graphic designer at an early age. Born in Milan in 1907, he reached out for the Futurist movement in 1926, and in 1927 he exhibited at Galleria Pesaro, as well as in the Biennials and Quadrennials of the 1930s. His artistic activity ranges from painting to collage, to design to polymaterial works. In 1934 he appeared among the signatories of the Manifesto tecnico dell’aeroplastica futurista, and in 1935, he executed a series of abstract paintings. In 1930 he associated with Riccardo Castagneri and with the R + M brand, the two artists will produce advertising graphics until 1938. In 1930, he produced the Macchina aerea (Aerial Machine), from which came his Macchine inutili/Useless Machines, anticipating his interest in the deconstruction of the traditional work of art.
In the second half of the 1930s, he got in contact with the circle of artists surrounding the Milione gallery, in which he exhibited his metaphysical objects in 1940. In 1942 he published a book on Macchine inutili and in 1947 he began producing them in editions. From 1939 to 1945, he worked as a graphic designer for Mondadori and as art director for the magazine Tempo. In 1945, with the same publisher, he began his books for children: conceived for his son Alberto, they were then translated all over the world. In 1948, he was among the founders of the MAC (Concrete Art Movement), alongside Gillo Dorfles, Gianni Monnet, and Atanasio Soldati.
In 1949 he starts the Libri Illegibili series. In 1952 he began producing foam rubber toys, cubic ashtrays, and knitted lamps. He signed the Manifesto del Macchinismo. In 1962 he organized at the Olivetti store in Milan the first Arte Programmata official show.
In 1954 he was awarded of Compasso d’Oro Prize; at the beginning of the 1970s he held some university courses at Harvard University.
Munari exhibited extensively throughout his lifetime: in 1955, he had a two-person exhibition with Alvin Lustig at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and in 1966, had a solo exhibition at the Howard Wise Gallery, in New York. n 1994, he participated in the exhibition The Italian metamorphosis 1943-1968, organized by the Guggenheim Museum, New York. Another retrospective exhibition is dedicated to him by the Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich, in 1995, Let the Air See. In 1997 he participated in Minimalia, MoMA PS1, New York.
He participated to eleven editions of the Venice Biennale: 1930, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1952, 1966 (personal room), 1968, 1970 (double personal room), 1972, 1986 (personal room), and the last one, after his death, in 2013 (Brazil Pavilion).There are also several participations in the Rome Quadriennale 1931, 1948, 1972, 1973. Documenta 3 (1964) and Documenta 4 (1968), in Kassel. Also the São Paulo Biennale in 1994 and 2012. Manifesta 11, in Amsterdam, in 2016.
He died on 30 September 1998 in Milan. After his death, important are the 2007 traveling exhibitions Bruno Munari: from what comes from what, held in Japan, at: Itabashi Art Museum, Tokyo; The Museum of Modern Art, Shiga; Kariya City. In 2012 Estorick Collection of Italian Modern Art, London, dedicated to him the exhibition Bruno Munari, My Futurist Past.