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

Frederico Fellini (1920 – 1993)

Federico Fellini was an Italian filmmaker, known for his distinctive style, which blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness. He is recognized as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. Fellini’s best-known films include I vitelloni (1953), La Strada (1954), Nights of Cabiria (1957), La Dolce Vita (below, 1960),  (1963), Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Fellini Satyricon (1969), Roma (1972), Amarcord (1973), and Fellini’s Casanova (1976).

Giovanni Battista Ferrari (1584 – 1655)

Giovanni Battista Ferrari was an Italian Jesuit, orientalist, university teacher and botanist who made significant contributions to various fields, including mathematics, physics, and architecture. One of his many passions was the study and cultivation of ornamental plants, and published De Florum Cultura,  which was illustrated with copperplates by, amongst others, Anna Maria Vaiani, possibly the first female copper-engraver. The first book deals with the design and maintenance of the garden and garden equipment. The second book provides descriptions of the different flowers, while the third book deals with the culture of these flowers. The fourth book, continues with a treatise on the use and beauty of the flower species, including their different varieties and mutations.

From Arader Galleries: Hand-colored copperplate engravings from Hesperides sive de Malorum Aureorum Culrura et Usu Libri Quatuor, Rome, 1646

Lucio Fontana (1899 – 1968)

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) was an influential Italian-Argentine artist best known for his groundbreaking contributions to the art movement known as Spatialism. Born in Argentina, Fontana later moved to Italy where he developed his artistic career. He challenged traditional notions of artistic expression by exploring the concept of space and the relationship between two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms. Fontana’s iconic “Spatial Concept” series, created in the 1950s and 1960s, featured slashed canvases or punctured surfaces, which he considered as a means to transcend the confines of the traditional canvas and bring the viewer’s attention to the infinite spatial possibilities beyond. His provocative approach to art and his innovative use of materials influenced generations of artists and continues to inspire contemporary art practices. Fontana’s contributions to the art world have secured his place as a visionary and an important figure in the development of modern and contemporary art.

Concetto spaziale, Attese (executed in 1964) by Lucio Fontana. Image via Sotheby’s.

Piero Fornasetti (1913 – 1988)

Piero Fornasetti was an Italian artist and designer who left an indelible mark on the world of art and interior design. Born in Milan, Fornasetti displayed an early talent for drawing and painting. His unique artistic vision blended whimsy, surrealism, and classical elements, resulting in a distinctive style that became his signature. Fornasetti’s most notable works include his iconic “Tema e Variazioni” series, which featured over 500 variations of a woman’s face. His designs adorned a wide range of objects, from furniture and textiles to ceramics and wallpapers, making him a pioneer in the field of decorative arts. Fornasetti’s boundless creativity and irreverent approach to design continue to inspire artists and designers worldwide, cementing his legacy as one of the most influential figures in 20th-century design.

From Milord Antiques: Rare Folding Screen “Grattacieli Rinascimentali” by Piero Fornasetti, circa 1950


Italian Futurism was an influential avant-garde movement that emerged in the early 20th century, spearheaded by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and his fellow artists and writers. With its bold manifesto published in 1909, Italian Futurism sought to embrace modernity and reject the constraints of tradition and nostalgia. It celebrated speed, technology, and the dynamism of the machine age, emphasizing concepts such as youth, violence, and war. Futurist artists included

Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, and Gino Severini. Their works were characterized by fragmented forms, dynamic lines, vibrant colors, and an obsession with movement and speed. Italian Futurism not only left a lasting impact on the visual arts but also influenced literature, design, and even political ideology, leaving an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of the 20th century.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni, 1913