Fortunato Depero and his pencils’s American success

Le matite di Fortunato Depero

"Lightning-pencils", 1926, collage, private collection

In an early-1930s publication titled “Incredibile storia vissuta di… matite”, Fortunato Depero (1892-1960) tells a personal anecdote related to some advertisement illustrations he had been asked to create by a Milan-based company in 1926.

He had been commissioned four subjects: “Pencil Factory”, “The Pencil-animal”, “The Pencil-man” and “Bundle of colored pencils”. But finally the artist did not consider the fee satisfactory and took his drawings back, deciding to look for better clients.

“I offered them to another Milan-based company. I arranged for an order of 100,000 postcards, and the colored illustrations were produced. When the company showed them to some provincial clients who did not appreciate them, the order was put on standby. They reimbursed my expenses but the job went up in smoke.”

In Depero’s story, more proposals and more refusals are described, until his pencils finally find their fortune in the United States:

“In September 1928, they sailed with me on the Augustus. In New York, they saw the windows on the Fifth Avenue, the Galleries on Madison and Park Avenue, and the workshops of the American Lead Pencil Co. in Hoboken. As I write, they are showcased in all of their originality in my sixth show in New York, at the Advertising Club on Park Avenue” (translated from “Depero. L’uomo e l’artista”, by Maurizio Scudiero, Egon, Rovereto 2009).

Here is a selection of wonderful “advertisement pencils” by Fortunato Depero.

Photos via: ©Casa d’Arte futurista Depero, ©Eredi Depero

October 10, 2016