Gio Ponti and Pietro Chiesa formed the Fontana Arte studio in 1933, after Ponti’s partnership with Chiesa’s workshop. Ponti was initially a consultant and artistic director of Luigi Fontana’s glass manufacturing company. Ponti’s work inspired the shift towards Fontana’s entry into lighting design and artistic glass making. Fontana Arte quickly became one of Italy’s leading workshops for contemporary lighting and design. The studio is also highly respected for producing pieces of great artistic quality and craftsmanship; and, their success is owed to the artistic direction of Gio Ponti and his successors, Pietro Chiesa and Max Ingrand.
Pietro Chiesa profoundly influenced the Italian Modernist movement and the development of 20th century artistic glass. Chiesa’s work during the 1930’s showcased the depth of his style, as his designs experimented with fragmented or splintered glass, stained, opaque or frosted glass. Chiesa was both partner and artistic director of Fontana Arte until his retirement from design in 1945.
A prominent style and period in art that was developed in the early 1900’s and steadily spread across Western Europe and America until the 1930’s. Pieces made in this style were exhibited in Paris at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Mordernes from which the genre borrows its name. The emergence of Art Deco is most often viewed as the continuation or response to Art Nouveau, and was regarded as the antithesis to traditional art styles because its intention was to produce pieces representing luxury and elegance. Artists who were inspired by this style drew reference from styles, cultures or concepts that were often contradictory. Art Deco’s influence is visible across many art forms, from glass art to sculpture, architecture to fashion, dance to illustrative or graphic art. Art Deco, evoked a period of creation where artist attempted to go against traditional techniques, and sought out modernity and crafted pieces representative of excess, luxury and elegance. Art Deco is quoted as dying out by 1940, but its influence returned throughout the 1960’s and can still be seen in the arts, fashion and design of today.