BRUNO MUNARI, ARTIST AND PHILOSOPHER
“Artists need to abandon the whole notion of romanticism and take an active role among men, well versed in current technology, materials and working methods…”(1966): this basically sums up the vision of art embraced by Bruno Munari, one of the most ingenious figures in graphic art in the twentieth century.
His work for Pirelli in the post war period coincided with the burgeoning of the graphic design field, with artists of the calibre of Carboni, Monguzzi, Grignani, Savignac, not to mention Munari himself. Pirelli’s advertising reflected the dynamism of the economic upswing and drew on the presence of charismatic intellectual figures like Leonardo Sinisgalli and Arrigo Castellani, who in 1951 headed the company’s Propaganda Department. Munari worked with the company on two occasions: in 1949 he designed and produced his toys in foamrubber with a wire core – the cat “Meo Romeo” and the monkey “Zizi” - which won him the Compasso d’Oro award in 1954. In the Pirelli magazine he wrote this about designing the toys: “…I would really like to speed up the manufacturing process, but in this enormous complex of factories, as big as a town, where major interests are at stake, how can I, Bruno Munari, weighing just 48 kilos, interrupt all this work? So I wait for my cat on the street corner, together with lots of children who have asked if they can have it for Christmas”.
In 1952 Munari was appointed artistic director of the “Pigomma” range of toys, which took over from the “Rempel” range, and in this position he gained experience in designing and creating products for children.
The innovative advertising of the period drew inspiration from geometric and spatial manipulations, as can be seen in the 1953 advert for “Coria” soles: a black labyrinth serves as a backdrop for the yellow soles. Munari designed posters “without limits, that once put together and stuck to the wall become one single poster, as big as you like”.
He also designed a number of trade fair booths for the company, like that for the Plastic Materials pavilion at the Milan Fair in 1954, continuing until 1956, the year which saw the end of the fruitful partnership between Pirelli and the designer, writer and graphic designer - in a word, the artist - Bruno Munari.