Of roosters, hoopoes, owls and other animals

Toni Zuccheri at the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan, from 5 June – 13 October 2019

Milan – The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum celebrates Toni Zuccheri (San Vito al Tagliamento, 1936 – 2008) with an exhibition dedicated to a large nucleus of unique works on animal themes. The exhibition, curated by Rosa Chiesa and Sandro Pezzoli, will be an opportunity to focus on a particular aspect of the production of this unique Friulian artist, who looked to the world of nature as a source of inspiration, offering a reworking always personal and poetic. The rooms of Via Gesù will host unique works depicting birds – animals preferred by Sugars – and will be transformed, thanks to the installation of Lissoni Associati, official partner of the Museum, in a fantastic aviary.

The permanent collection of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, where the craftsmanship of excellence is at home, is flanked by the large group of birds – perhaps the most unique and poetic production of Toni Zuccheri – where glass meets heterogeneous materials to give life to hoopoes, cocks, ducks: unique pieces where nature is enhanced by the very personal choice of means of expression. The artist’s work is multifaceted and dedicates his life to glass, always experimenting with new techniques and making extensive use of the most diverse materials: wood, dried leaves, stones, bronze, cobs, often recovered supports, chosen for the imprint that nature has made on them, for the material charge, vehicle of personal and collective memories.

Toni Zuccheri’s sensitivity has its roots in the personal history of the artist: born in San Vito al Tagliamento in 1936, he grew up in a cultured and intellectually stimulating family, frequented by personalities such as the poet Giacomo Noventa, his maternal uncle. His father Luigi, a painter specialized in animals, owes his early interest in drawing and his attention to nature in the family home in the Friulian countryside. After studying at the Liceo Artistico of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, he enrolled in the faculty of architecture, which in those years included among its teachers Ignazio Gardella, Bruno Zevi, Alberto Samonà, Egle Trincanato.

At just over twenty, Zuccheri began to collaborate with Venini thanks to his father Luigi, to whom the important furnace asked to draw a bestiary. The painter declined the offer in favor of his son considering him more skilled in drawing. On this occasion Toni experimented with new techniques, enriching his training thanks to the close contact with the master blowers at work in the furnace. The first piece for Venini was the Upupa, which went into production in 1964, and whose bronze body was fitted with sumptuous glass feathers.

In the same year Zuccheri exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennale some works made for Venini and in the meantime continues its artistic experimentation bringing to fruition unique pieces, often inspired by the animal world, including the curious Ragfish. Also in 1964 he began working with Gio Ponti on the large windows at the Cassa di Risparmio di Padova, the Church of Santa Maria Annunciata at the San Carlo Hospital in Milan and the Bejenkorf Palace in Eindhoven, Holland.

In the 1970s, Zuccheri worked for important glassworks and galleries, which carried out exhibitions and projects with him and refined an increasingly strong vocation as a designer: he collaborated, among others, with the glassworks Barovier & Toso, VeArt, De Majo and since 1979 he has designed gold and silver jewellery for (the) Giò Caroli. In the 1980s he continued to work with companies such as Imperatore, Sardinia Crystal and Form International, while at the end of the decade he met Pino Usicco, with whom he created exhibitions, happenings and cultural events, as well as important projects such as those related to the Reggiani company.
Toni Zuccheri passed away in 2008 at the age of seventy-two. Thus an artist elusive to every definition disappears, engaged throughout his life in a close dialogue with nature, ranging from the unique piece to the series, from glass to metals, mixing with wisdom and originality noble materials with other humble and recovered.

The installation, at the Museum until October 13, is made with the support of the Lombardy Region and Cariplo Foundation and Lissoni Associati for the installation. Enrico Bersellini and Banca Generali support the exhibition while Flos, Glas Italia and Max & Kitchen contribute as technical sponsors.

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