Bruno Munari stands out as one of the world’s most decorated Italian artists and designers. He worked through different art and design movements including; Surrealism, Futurism and concrete art. However, despite his wide work in all the movements, he remained philosophically independent and created unique work exploring functional and uselessness concepts that were reflected the independence of his work.
Early life Of Bruno Munari
Bruno Munari was born in 1907 in Milan, before his family moved to Venice where they stayed until their return to Milan in 1925. On his return to Milan, he worked with his Engineer uncle while following the developments in the Futurist movement led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and showcased various works in several exhibitions beginning in 1927.
Later in 1930, he started collaborating with Riccardo Castagnedi in graphic design work and worked with him for the next five years before moving on to work for Mondondori as a press graphic designer and art director for the Tempo magazine. His encounter with Andre Breton in 1933, coupled with his disillusionment with the Futuristic fascist politics following the post WWII era, influenced most of his work which took a surrealist and Dadaist look even as it maintained the futuristic aesthetics. Munari concentrated in exploring the diverse techniques and approaches presented by each artistic movement and how they reconciled art and design.
His Later works
In 1948, together with Atanasio Soldati, Gillo Dorfles and Gianni Monnet, Bruno Munari cofounded the Movimento Arte Concreta, an Italian movement of concrete art forming one of his most famous works. In the same decade, Italy witnessed the creation of many design objects by Munari including; ash trays, light fixtures, toys, espressos and televisions among others.
Munari was very influential in the democratization of art and design through the incorporation of functional art and design into public life. This was done by the publication of design works like the ‘Design as Art’ in 1966, a book whose influence is felt to date. Mass production of some of his designs like the ‘L Ora X clock’ enabled a wider reach and inspired creativity and innovativeness amongst other designers and artists.
Other than for the numerous functional items that he created, Munari is equally remembered for his ‘Useless Machines’, a landmark work that involved creation of delicate abstract objects from cut-out paper that lacked tangible utilitarian functionality, but which served to show the whimsical exploration of his ideas and their relevance in his work.
Bruno Munari worked across movements and disciplines, critiquing their nature at every point to successfully curve his own niche as an independent designer and artist of his time whose philosophies remain relevant in present day perception of art and design