The Estorick, of course, specialises in showing modern and 20th-century art from Italy – and, the truth is, much of swinging London’s look and style came directly from Italian designers and artists. And one of them in particular – someone who created one of the greatest, if not the greatest, piece of graphic design of all time. Dio Mio!
Grignani, born in a provincial northern Italian town in 1908, studied architecture in Turin and then went into design, creating artwork for Italian companies throughout the 1930s and 40s, experimenting with photography and collage – cutting up and rearranging photographic images.
So talented was Grignani that he was chosen to create one of the most successful and enduring pieces of graphic design ever produced – one that we all have somewhere in our homes, probably in the wardrobe. The Woolmark symbol – you know it from clothes labels – shows three swirls of black curves, all sitting together like a pyramid of ice-cream balls on top of a wafer. Beautifully simple, recognisable, effortless yet memorable. That was Grignani’s design, from the mid-1960s.
In the later 1960s Grignani went on to design a series of highly stylised covers for Penguin science fiction novels, all trippy geometrics and hyper colour, and all of which are now themselves hailed as classics of publishing art. He died in 1999.
The Estorick exhibition, Franco Grignani: Art as Design 1950-1990, is the first in the UK to show a broad sweep of Grignani’s work in any detail, and much of the material has been loaned by his family. Too hip to miss.
|What||Franco Grignani design retrospective, Estorick Collection|
|Where||Estorick Collection, 39a Canonbury Square , London , N1 2AN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Highbury & Islington (underground)|
05 Jul 17 – 10 Sep 17, Times vary. Check online.