ALVINO BAGNI 'SEA GARDEN' CANDLE HOLDERS
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An exceptional pair of Alvino Bagni candle holders for the importer Raymor, dressed in the famous 'Sea Garden' glaze. Each is impressed with Bagni's typical "Italy" mark on the rim of the base.
ALVINO BAGNI was born in Lastra a Signa in the environs of Florence in 1919. His boyhood and adolescence were spent without his father, who, as a communist, had been exiled under fascism. A young Bagni learned the basics of drawing and clay modeling under the tutelage of artist and sculptor Torello Santini. His interest in ceramics, a locally important industry, grew, and he found work at Arnaldo Pugi’s furnace in Ponte a Signa. Following WWII, Pugi helped Bagni finance the opening of his own studio, BAGNI CERAMICHE, where several family members were employed—including wife Gina, who would work along side Bagni throughout his career. 3,500 elephant-head plates bearing the slogan “I like Ike” were manufactured for export during Eisenhower's 1952 US presidential campaign—an early and prophetic commission: the large majority of Bagni’s work would be for the US market.
In the 1950s and '60s Bagni established fundamental artistic and business collaborations—with Bitossi Ceramiche in nearby Montelupo Fiorentino and with import companies Rosenthal Netter and Raymor, the dominant American firm. These relationships allowed Bagni to open a larger, better-equipped factory where he surrounded himself with highly skilled artists—Enzo Borgini, M. Mannori, Remo Buti, and Michelangelo Santonocito among them. Bagni produced a stunning variety of designs for Raymor, including some highly individualistic studio work. He was always experimenting with glazes, and he produced truly radical combinations and colors schemes. A case in point is the 'Sea Garden' decor, an unusual mix of turquoise, blue, green, yellow, brown, and black. Bagni often incorporated metal rings or other pieces with his ceramic designs.
By 1980 BAGNI CERAMICHE had about 100 employees and was internationally renowned for its high-quality artistic production and its use of new techniques. However, as a globalizing world became increasingly opened up to competition, the company found itself in financial difficulty. Tied as it was to an “artisanal” approach, it struggled to withstand falling prices. Despite Bagni's best efforts to save his employees and factory, BAGNI CERAMICHE closed for good in 1990.
In 1993 Bagni returned to pottery with Nuove Forme, a venture he founded along with son-in-law Gianfranco Ghiretti. A natural evolution of his older company, Nuove Forme continued to research and experiment with techniques and colors. It found a niche producing limited runs of virtually unique objects for the most discerning of buyers. Nuove Forme owns many of Bagni's historical designs and curates an enormous Bagni showroom—something of a museum of his work. Bagni retired for health reasons in 2001. He died in 2009 at age 90.
Country of Origin – USA
Designer – ALVINO BAGNI (1919-2000)
Attribution – MARKED
Materials – CERAMIC
Condition – VERY GOOD (no defects; may show slight traces of use)
Height (in.) – 20.5
Diameter (in.) – 16.0