Dudovich and Grandi Magazzini Mele: bourgeois style

Dudovich, advertisement posters for Grandi Magazzini Mele in Naples


Marcello Dudovich (1878-1962) started collaborating with Grandi Magazzini Mele – one of the major department stores in Naples – in 1906.

The year was pivotal in the Trieste-born painter and illustrator’s career, also because he went back to living in Milan after having moved to Bologna in 1899 – giving a boost to his relationship with Officine Grafiche Ricordi.

This rising star of early-1900s’ Italian and European graphics, with three noted colleagues of his – Adolfo Hohenstein, Leopoldo Metlicovitz, and Giovanni Maria Mataloni – formed within Ricordi an amazing team of illustrators, who were in tune with the expressionist avant-garde of the French “Fauves” and German “Die Brücke” group.

In his book , “Le parole e le figure. Storia dei media in Italia dall’età liberale alla Seconda Guerra Mondiale” (Donzelli, Rome 2012), Andrea Sangiovanni explains, “in the 1880s, Officine Grafiche Ricordi – a publishing house specialized in music scores – opened a Creative Department just for poster ads. It was a forge of ideas, under the direction of Adolfo Hohenstein […]. It was where some of the most important advertisement campaigns of the late century would see the light, including the one created for Grandi Magazzini Mele in Naples. Indeed, while the Mele brothers had been using poster ads for a long time already, it was only after their collaboration with Ricordi, in1895, that the manifestos became a truly effective medium: the elegant illustrations by Metlicovitz and Dudovich quickly transformed the ‘ready made’ dress – which Neapolitan salespeople had been offering for years already – into an icon of style for the bourgeoisie, which could represent their desire for social ascent.”

June 4, 2015