While the shows this week presented beautiful and sometimes costly clothes reflecting a wide expression of creativity, everyone is talking about the perfection and beauty of Italian manufacturing. It is time to re-inspire the Italian workshops to keep our treasure of skilled craftsmen and talents alive. To support apprentice training projects and expand the manufacturing of quality goods for the world with the pride of elegance and excellence we have always been known for in fashion and beyond.
The link between art and craft has been, since the Renaissance, closely joined. Only recently in our modern era were they seen as different. But now we are more than ever aware that the artisans, our craftsmen, are living treasures. They are not only the technicians, but also the creative thinkers, inventors, collaborators, and discoverers of new ideas. Whatever their realm of expertise – painting, paper and printing, sculpture, leather, metals, pottery or jewelry, their knowledge of how to make something often forms the artistic question what to make. As Dante (here painted by Botticelli)wrote in Paradiso, “A great flame follows a little spark.”
The traditional “Artigiano” is a special way to recognize throughout Italy the difference between heavy industry and crafts. The Italian artisan is the keeper of tools and techniques that are passed from generation to the next; preserving in a living tradition of training and application skills that are hundreds of years old. Carvers, gilders, gold and silversmiths,tailors, glass blowers in Venice, Pottery studios in Naples and the leather goods of Tuscany all benefit from being Artisanal. The art of the artisan is the history of Italy’s most famous objects.
Especially recognized in Florence, but all over Italy from the Renaissance,“La Bottega”, or the artisan shop, was recognized as a meeting place where new ideas were exchanged, and through training and experiment new styles and techniques introduced.The artisan was then, and is now for all practical purposesfirst and foremost an artist.
Engaged in the gesture of needle and thread with thimble. Here, a picture by Alfred Stieglitz of the hands of Georgia O’Keefe, 1919.
Her hands became the focal point of his photography for several decades, creating a body of work of hand portraits that have become legend.