The Alphabet of Art & Antiques – Italian style! B is for…

The 2023 San Francisco Fall Show will celebrate La Dolce Vita – the quintessentially Italian approach to the “good life”. We will indulge in the pure pleasure of appreciating and collecting art, antiques and design. From Botticelli to Bertoia, from Fellini to Fornasetti, from Schiaparelli to Sottsass, La Dolce Vita is all about poetic beauty, breathtaking art, groundbreaking design, exuberant colors and refined materials. We’re breaking it down alphabetically… B is for:


A baldacchino is a canopy over the altar in a church, sometimes made of a permanent material like bronze. The most famous is Bernini’s baldacchino for St. Peter’s in Rome.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598 – 1680)

From his early days as a child prodigy until his death in 1680 at the age of 82, Gian Lorenzo Bernini remained unchallenged as the foremost sculptor of his time. His dynamic and exuberant style perfectly embodies the baroque period, of which he has become the symbol. Bernini excelled in every sculptural genre (portraiture, tomb sculpture, religious and mythological representations). He was equally creative in other media, including architecture, painting and drawing. An early practitioner of the art of caricature, he used his quick sketches to poke fun at the Roman papal court. In his all-encompassing virtuosity, Bernini brings to mind another prolific artist who redefined sculpture, Michelangelo.

Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome built between 1648 and 1651

Harry Bertoia (1915 – 1978)

Harry Bertoia’s oeuvre encompasses sound sculptures, furniture, and jewelry design. A successful designer at the mid-century furniture company Knoll, Bertoia famously designed their Diamond Chair (below), a delicate and airy steel-framed chair introduced in 1952 and still sold today. He would later devote his artistic energy towards innovative sculpture, finding ways to bend and stretch metal so that when crossed with wind or touch, it would create different sounds. Many of Bertoia’s “tonal sculptures” were commissioned for established institutions and as public art displays. He has also performed concerts with these pieces, even recording a series of albums known as Sonambient music. From a young age Bertoia was friends with other prominent designers such as Walter Gropius and Ray and Charles Eames, and he regularly designed jewelry for his friends.

Bernardo Bertolucci (1941 – 2018)

Bernardo Bertolucci, the Italian director whose films were known for their colorful visual style, was born in Parma, Italy. He attended Rome University and became famous as a poet. He served as assistant director for Pier Paolo Pasolini in the film Accattone (1961) and directed The Grim Reaper (1962). His second film, Before the Revolution (1964), which was released in 1971, received an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay. Bertolucci also received an Academy Award nomination as best director for Last Tango in Paris (1972), and the best director and best screenplay for the film The Last Emperor (1987, below) – the first Western feature film authorized by the People’s Republic of China to film in the Forbidden City in Beijing – which walked away with nine Academy Awards.

Umberto Boccioni (1882 – 1916)

Umberto Boccioni was an influential Italian painter and sculptor. He helped shape the revolutionary aesthetic of the Futurism movement as one of its principal figures. Despite his short life, his approach to the dynamism of form and the deconstruction of solid mass guided artists long after his death.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni, 1913

Cini Boeri

Cini Boeri was one of the first female Italian designers to rise to prominence after the second world war. Over the course of her career, Boeri collaborated with some of the biggest names in Italian design, including lighting brand Artemide and furniture makers Knoll, Magis and Arflex. “There is nothing affected or elitist in the essentialism of her architecture, just as there is nothing austere or penitent in the minimalism of her furniture design projects,” states her son, architect Stefano Boeri.

Strips seating system designed by Cini Boeri for Arflex, 1968