Piero Bernardini, self-irony and Pinocchio
Piero Bernardini could not help but love Pinocchio. Collodi’s most famous character – with all of his flaws, and his tendency to get in trouble – always was a favorite with those who don’t need to act stuck up or flaunt their skills and achievements. You need a little self-irony to like the iconic puppet.
Bernardini certainly had skills and achievements to flaunt: the Florentine painter and illustrator (1891-1974) started publishing his cartoons in 1908, and made a name for himself right after the First World War – the freshness and acumen of his illustrations for “Giornalino della Domenica” could not go unnoticed. After that, his drawings and illustrations were unfailing successes. His style – admired and widely imitated: he was a point of reference for many colleagues – was cubist at first, and steered towards simpler lines during the 1920s. He worked on almost two hundred masterpieces of literature (including “The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel”, “Don Quixote”, “Captains Courageous”, and “Alice in Wonderland”) and collaborated with the most important Italian periodicals of his time (spanning from “Illustrazione italiana” to “Grandi firme”).
Pinocchio came into his life in 1924, and became his longtime friend over nine editions of the classic children’s novel.
Bernardini was also an excellent painter. When asked about it, he said he felt “a certain aversion for all of painting’s tools. First and foremost, the easel: it looked so sinister I had to give mine away”. He admitted to being “shy about palettes. Every time I pick one up, I feel like tenor Cavaradossi in ‘Tosca’”.
Humble and ironic, he was a perfect companion for Pinocchio.