On the occasion of this exhibition, which is an attempt to re-launch the international profile of Albisola as a breeding ground for art and the use of new materials and techniques related to ceramics, it is only right that we should recall another fundamental moment which contributed to the specific identity currently enjoyed by Albisola. What we are talking about is the Artists' Walk which came hot on the heels of the first high-profile post-war art event in the town - the Monument to the War Dead by Leoncillo Leonardi on the same seafront promenade.
Various factors came felicitously together in the original idea for the Artists' Walk: from a town-planning point of view, there was the need for a renewed seafront promenade (1); the design intuition of the decorated mosaic; the promotion (2) and adherence of the artists involved; and the contribution, already in place, from the State which enabled the seafront renovation to get underway - all factors which ensure that this great urban mosaic stands today as a testimony to an era: the early 1960s (3).
No reflection on the town in this period would be complete without a broader view of the socio-anthropological setting which affected the whole Ligurian Coast as well as a great deal of the so-called Italian Industrial Triangle (4).
The town, originally made up of manual workers and fishermen, was finding itself overwhelmed by the chaotic urban sprawl brought about by immigration coupled with the first phase of the building boom for holiday homes. In the 1960s - the years that marked Italy's "boom" and "economical miracle" - the main logistical, technical and aesthetic choices made smacked of modernity, coming, as they did at the same time as the myth of an automobile for everyone and seaside holidays for all (5).
As an example of applied art, the Artists' Walk came in a bid to enrich and exalt the technological progress typical of the era with aesthetic values in a socio-economic context characterized by the imitation and emulation of behaviors and lifestyles which had a solid, common, positive inter-class base in post-war Reconstruction - commemorated on the Walk in the form of Leoncillo's monument. The first proletarian and lower middle-class consumer dreams in Italian Neo-Capitalism were burgeoning.
Even the technique used was symptomatic of the effervescent and dynamic climate of the times, and included colored glass mosaic tesseras, typically used at the time to decorate parts of the fašades of new buildings (6). This too is a hymn to progress and to innovation and draws ideally on strong cultural traditions - from Roman and Byzantine mosaics to Ligurian ciottolato (cobblestones), the Renaissance, Mannerists and the Baroque, right up to the absolute innovations of a few decades previously, including the spread of Italian Futurism (7). It had been in Albisola in the 1930s that the most interesting proposals from the Second Futurism were emerging in the form of ceramics, and the sensibilities of some of Albisola's artists who adhered to the movement - artists like Tullio Mazzotti, Ivos Pacetti and Mario Anselmo - are still present in the form of the Casa Mazzotti, based on a design by Nicolaj Dijulgheroff.
Another connection with the Futurist aesthetic and Airpainting in particular, comes from the perceptive dimension of the single designs that make up the mosaic system of the Walk, almost all of which unfolds like a linear sequence of film frames dynamically transferred from the projector to the observer. Indeed, the only way to view the project so as to best favor the artists' underlying idea is from an aerial view. Yet the underlying design of the Walk is quite simple: an enlarged reproduction, in a series of panels separated by white and blue bands, of the drawings donated to the Town Administration by the twenty participating artists (8).
Perhaps those artists who address the project most decisively in terms of "environmental project" are Lucio Fontana, Roberto Crippa and Giuseppe Capogrossi. The blue, circular traces of Fontana's Spatial Concept are pure, dilated two-dimensional forms, which, prior to restoration, dialogued with the obscure material of the forms of the three bronzed natures, which are no longer present. Crippa's Composition offers multiple, interchangeable perspective readings, not unlike Capogrossi's Superficie XXX. The decorations designed by Caldanzano, De Salvo, Quatrini, Porc¨, Gambetta, Sassu, Siri, Strada, Salino, Sabatelli, meanwhile, oscillate between the imitative texture of a woven carpet and the simple enlargement of their underlying sketch. Between these two poles, showing notable linguistic courage and formal and chromatic talent, we find contributions from Lam, Fabbri, Rossello, Garelli, Franchini, Rambaldi and Luzzati.
Very few of the artists who took part in the initiative were fully aware of the complexity of the event and of the esteem it would subsequently garner. Direction, at least in conceptual terms, was all but absent. Such fortuitousness, however, is typical of Applied Arts, and the fact that it was denied any particular historical marking when conceived, is due to the objective difficulty of dynamically interpreting complex phenomena as they are just coming into being. But as a result, the project proved to be a unique work of art, which has rightly been defined as (9) "the extraordinary testimony to the relation between artists and citizens, natural beauty and created beauty, work and poetry".
Massimo Trogu teaches Disciplines of Painting at the Arturo Martini School of Art, Savona. From 1978 through 1991, Trogu worked as a sculptor-ceramist, managing a studio and collaborating with companies in and around Albisola and Liguria as a potter and model maker. From 1981 through 1991 he taught clay and plaster molding for the Professional Training Courses held by the Liguria Region. Has worked as a consultant for the Town Council of Savona, organizing the five National Art ceramics Competitions during the period 1985-1993. Since 1991 he has been Art Director of the "La Stella" Cultural Circle (Albisola Superiore). Since 1997 he has been Albisola ceramics correspondent for the magazine A - tra Artigianato e Design. He has occupied various institutional positions, most notably as cultural councilor for Albisola Superiore, where he organized the exhibitions "Albisola 1925 - Ceramica degli Anni 20" cuarated by Rossana Bossaglia and "La Ceramica Futurista - da Balla a Tullio d'Albisola" curated by Enrico Crispolti. He is a member of the Regional Commission for the promotion of Arts Craftsmanship.