This Italian cube vase awash in color was designed by Marcello Fantoni. Imported and distributed in the USA by Raymor, the label style dates this piece to the 1960s. The colorful glaze is reminiscent of an abstract watercolor painting which was a popular decor style of the period, used by Fantoni as well as by Ivo de Santis for Gli Etruschi. The rough texture, splotches, and sgraffito scratches are original to the piece and are intentional. The style is reminiscent of the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-sabi which is sometimes described as one of beauty that is 'imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete'.

MARCELLO FANTONI was born in Florence in 1915.  He began his studies at the Instituto d’Arte Porta Romana in Florence at the age of twelve under the great ceramicist Carlo Guerrini, then the creative director of the famed Cantagalli Factory.  Fantoni's training in the arts included sculpture classes with Libero Andreotti and Bruno Innocenti and instruction in figure drawing with the painter Gianni Vagnetti; he finally graduated from the institute as a maestro in 1934.  Upon completing a stint as the art director of a ceramics factory in Perugia, he opened the Fantoni Ceramic Studio in Florence in 1936 where he produced both serial and one-of-a-kind pieces, the latter including sculptures and furnishings.  In 1937 his work was shown in the Florence National Arts and Crafts Exhibit.  Its decoration—with painted figures and African and marine motifs—and its rustic forms captured a great deal of attention.  By the onset of World War II at the decade's end, Fantoni’s integration of decidedly Modernist elements with ancient Italian pottery techniques had brought him artistic and commercial success, at home and abroad.

In the initial years after the War (during which he had participated in the Italian resistance) Fantoni worked for the 500-year old Maiolica factory in Deruta, Umbria, renowned for its signature tin-glazed pottery.  In the 1950's he refocused on his studio in Florence, dedicating himself to larger sculptural pieces and working together with collaborators.  Fantoni's post-war work, with its technical mastery and wholly unique abstract style, helped push ceramics into the sphere of the serious. It raised the profile of Italian ceramics in particular, laying the groundwork for their lasting prestige.  Fantoni drew from varied influences—Primitivism, Novecento style, Cubism, and Abstract Expressionism—experimenting with materials and forms alike.  A special emphasis on ancient Etruscan techniques, glazes, and colors heightened the timelessness of much of his work.  In addition to clay, he frequently worked in metals to great effect.  Every Fantoni piece was ultimately rendered unique by his hand-painting of it.  His painting style remains one of the most identifiable qualities of his creations.

In 1970 Fantoni founded the International School of Ceramic Art, dedicated to teaching ceramic arts and experimentation.  Many of his students and employees have gone on to become noteworthy artisans and artists in their own right. Fantoni maintained great versatility throughout his career and completed large-scale projects for public and private buildings.  When he died in Florence in 2011 at the age of 95, his obituary in the Italian newspaper La Nazione hailed him “the master of beauty.”

The following museums hold works by Fantoni:  MoMA New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Fine Art of Boston, Victoria and Albert Museum of London, Royal Scottish Museum of Edinburg, Museums of Modern Art of Tokyo and Kyoto, International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, National Bargello Museum and Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe of the Uffizi in Florence.

If done with passion, it becomes fashion. – MARCELLO FANTONI

Designer Marcello Fantoni
Manufacturer Fantoni Ceramic Studio
Design Period 1960 to 1969
Production Period 1960 to 1969
Country of Manufacture Italy
Identifying Marks This piece has an attribution mark
Style Vintage, Mid-Century, Italian Modern, Hand-Crafted
Detailed Condition Very Good — This vintage item has no defects, but it may show slight traces of use.
Restoration and Damage Details Light wear consistent with age and use
Product Code
Materials Ceramic
Color Blue, green, orange
Width 6.0 inch
Depth 5.5 inch
Height 6.8 inch
Quantity Available – 0