Guido Gambone: Ceramics from the ‘50s and ‘60s

September 10 - October 10, 2019

Magazzino Italian Art Foundation presented Guido Gambone: Ceramics from the '50s and '60san exhibition, curated by Enrico Camponi and Vittorio Calabrese, of select works by the prominent Italian ceramist Guido Gambone which were on view at the Consulate General of Italy in New York, from September 10 through October 10, 2019. A reception to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passing of artist Guido Gambone took place on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 12:00 p.m.

About Guido Gambone

Guido Gambone was born to Gaetano and Teresa Volpe on June 27, 1909 in Montella, near Avellino. When he was a teenager, he moved with his family to Vietri sul Mare, a town well known for the production of commonly used ceramics. At fifteen, despite his father's opposition, he left the gymnasium to become an apprentice in the ceramic factory of Francesco Avallone.

From the very beginning, Gambone was influenced by the style imported by German ceramists active in the Ceramics Industry of Salerno (C.I.S.), founded by the entrepreneur and ceramist Max Melamerson. In 1947, Gambone exhibited at the 8th Triennale di Milano, in which he participated from 1951 to 1960, and the 6th National Ceramics Competition in Faenza, in which he consistently participated and presented the panel with the allegory “Italian Republic at work” (Faenza, International Museum of Ceramics). The following year, as part of the VII National Competition, the artist won the Faenza prize thanks to a cup with abstract ornaments in brown and yellow on white. In 1949, he won the Faenza prize again, but ex aequo with Anselmo Bucci. In 1950, Gambone took part in the 25th Venice Biennale with Nudo sul dorso (ceramic) and the Ratto di Europa tile (Florence, Gambone heirs). In the same year, he was among the ceramists called to represent Italian craftsmanship in the traveling exhibition “Italy at work. Her renaissance in design today,” organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and by the National Artisan Company, with the collaboration of the most important American museums and the Italian government.

Also, in 1950, when the Faenzarella factory was closed, the artist, together with D'Arienzo and Vincenzo Procida, moved permanently to Florence, where he opened a factory that took his name. In the laboratory of the Palazzo dei Diavoli, on via B. Marcello, Gambone, now far from the experience of Vietri, directed his style towards the plastic values of the vasaria art and, introducing the use of grès ceramics, exceeded the limits of the decorative aspect.

In the 1950s, Gambone, in addition to taking part in many international ceramic exhibitions (D'Andria, 1986-88, p. 519), held a personal exhibition at the Il Milione gallery in Milan, in 1951; two years later, he exhibited at the Strozzina Gallery in Florence and, in 1954, participated in the 12th National Ceramics Competition in Faenza and won the G. Ballarini Award thanks to two grès ceramic pieces, La madre and Donna distesa (both kept at the International Ceramics Museum of Faenza), which highlight his interest in a Cubist-style synthesis. In fact, the production of this period demonstrates the artist’s orientation towards many different aspects of Modern and Contemporary Art, from Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró to the painting of Giorgio Morandi.

In the sixties, Gambone continued to prefer grès ceramics, which he combined with the most varied types and which allowed him an in-depth research on the effects of rough surfaces. If particular attention is paid to objects of common use, such as vases, bowls, flasks and bottles, the study of anthropomorphic motifs reveals an elaboration that takes into account only the plastic aspect. The free exaltation of shapes and the plastic play of the object will reach substantially aniconic results, for example, in the large white panel Arrotondamenti (Florence, Gambone heirs) which was awarded a prize in Faenza in 1967.

Gambone won the Faenza award again in 1959, 1960, 1961 (XVII, XVIII and XIX National Ceramics Competition). In 1960, he also won the gold medal at the fifth edition of the Mastro Giorgio award (Gubbio) and, the following year, that of the autonomous National Exhibition of Artisanal Crafts (Florence). In 1962, he was awarded the gold medal at the 10th National Ceramics Competition (the prize-winning work was acquired for the International Ceramics Museum in Faenza), and he participated in the 4th International Ceramics Art Competition of Gualdo Tadino, where he was awarded ex aequo with A. Hovisari and G. Dragoni. Also, in 1962, he participated in the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics in Prague, obtaining the gold medal. In 1963, he won, ex aequo with L. Assirelli, the Città di Cervia award, which he also won in 1964 (ex aequo with B. Bagnoli and G. Dragoni). Also, in 1963, he presented two pieces “of real and informal sculpture” (Zetti Ugolotti) in Monza as part of the ceramic competition. The following year, he participated in the collective exhibition “Italian Art Ceramics,” held in Rome at Penelope Gallery. In 1968, he took part with a grès ceramic work at the 14th Milan Triennale.

The artist passed away in Florence on September 20, 1969.

About the curators of the show

Enrico Camponi was born in Rome in 1950 and has been involved in decorative arts since the 1980s. Over the years, he has had a gallery which specialized in Murano glass and Italian ceramics from the 1900s, with particular attention to ceramics by Guido Gambone from the 1920s to the 1950s made in Vietri sul Mare. He has held numerous exhibitions of Guido Gambone’s work in his gallery.

Vittorio Calabrese is the Director of Magazzino Italian Art Foundation. A native of Irpinia, Italy, he specializes in the management of international and cultural institutions, art business practices, collection management, and appraising. Vittorio holds a BA and MSc in Business Administration and Management from Bocconi University, Milan, and an MA in History of Art and the Art Market from Christie’s Education, New York.

About The Olnick Spanu Collection

The collection of Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu features seminal works by American Pop artists, international and Italian postwar, conceptual, and contemporary artists, with a strong focus on art from the Arte Povera movement. It also includes a large, curated collection of over 500 hand-blown Murano glass works from the 20th and 21st century. Though Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu began collecting Murano glass and Italian art right after they met, in the late 1980s, they both already had an established, independent passion for art. For Olnick and Spanu, collecting Murano glass was the turning point for the collection, which then opened the way to ceramics, jewelry, design, and Italian art from the second part of the 20th century as well as Italian contemporary art.

Prior to their creation of Magazzino Italian Art Foundation in 2017, Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu established The Olnick Spanu Art Program, to bring the work of Italian contemporary artists to the United States. From 2003 through 2015, they annually commissioned a contemporary Italian artist to create a site-specific artwork for their property in Garrison, New York. Previous participants of the program include: Giorgio Vigna, Massimo Bartolini, Mario Airò, Domenico Bianchi, Remo Salvadori, Stefano Arienti, Bruna Esposito, Marco Bagnoli, Francesco Arena and Paolo Canevari.