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

Achille Castiglioni (1918 – 2002)

Achille Castiglioni was an Italian architect and designer of furniture, lighting, radiograms and other objects. He had a unique way of looking at things. As a product designer, he was often inspired by materials that others would consider mundane and found unique functions for them. The Castiglioni design team of Achille and his brothers, Livio and Pier Giacomo, worked from the viewpoint that design must restructure an object’s function, form and production process. They applied this philosophy to every piece that they produced. As a professor of design, he advised his students “If you are not curious, forget it. If you are not interested in others, what they do and how they act, then being a designer is not the right job for you.”

Sanluca chair designed by Castiglioni for Poltrona Frau, 1960

Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan (born 1960) is an Italian visual artist. Known primarily for his hyperrealistic sculptures and installations, Cattelan’s practice also includes curating and publishing. His satirical approach to art has resulted in him being frequently labelled as a joker or prankster of the art world. Self-taught as an artist, Cattelan has exhibited internationally in museums and Biennials. In 2011 the Guggenheim Museum, New York presented a retrospective of his work. Some of Cattelan’s better-known works include America, consisting of a solid gold toilet; La Nona Ora, a sculpture depicting a fallen Pope who has been hit by a meteorite; and Comedian, a fresh banana duct-taped to a wall (below).

Benvenuto Cellini (1500 – 1571)

Benvenuto Cellini was a Florentine sculptor, goldsmith, and writer, one of the most important Mannerist artists and one of the most picturesque figures of the Renaissance. His best-known extant works include the Cellini Salt Cellar – a part-enameled gold table sculpture (below), the sculpture of Perseus with the Head of Medusa, and his autobiography, which has been described as “one of the most important documents of the 16th century”.


Italian for “light-dark,” chiaroscuro is the use of strong contrasts between luminosity and shadow to achieve a sense of volume and dimensionality. This unique technique was developed during the Italian Renaissance by Leonard da Vinci, the Baroque period by Caravaggio, and the Dutch Golden Age by Rembrandt.

Salomé with the Head of John the Baptist by Caravaggio, circa 1607/1610.

Francesco Clemente

Francesco Clemente (born 1952) is a contemporary Italian artist known for his dreamlike paintings based on esoteric themes of sexuality and spirituality. Working across oil painting, installation, and watercolor, Clemente’s works are characterized by their formal experimentation with symbols, portraiture, and the human figure. “I believe there is such a thing as an imagination shared by the different contemplative traditions,” he has said. “My goal is to collect images and references from these traditions and connect them with the emotions from the present-day, and common experiences.” Clemente has lived at various times in Italy, India and New York City. Some of his work is influenced by the traditional art and culture of India.