In 1938, Fortunato Depero (1892-1960) was asked to design the illustrations for the municipal coats of arms of Italy’s provinces.
On June 30, that same year, Rome hosted the Third World Congress for Leisure Time and Recreation, which revolved around the theme of “Work and Joy”. Sixty-two nations sent delegates to the Giulio Cesare Hall inside the Campidoglio, at the presence of Mussolini.
To celebrate the event, “the general director of the Opera nazionale del Dopolavoro entrusted Depero with creating 96 full-color illustrations to represent the recreational clubs opened by companies in different provinces in Italy. Depero’s compositions highlight, with bold silhouettes, the peculiarities in each location. At first they were published in a huge book of over one thousand pages, full of reports, photomontages and various documents”(translated from M. Scudiero, “Depero. L’uomo e l’artista”, Egon, Rovereto 2009).
“However,” Scudiero continues, “Depero got De Agostini, who had published the volume, to give him the stereotypes of his illustrations almost immediately; he proceeded to publish a new book entirely focused on his 96 works, cloth-bound in burlap with the long title stamped in his writing. The new edition, printed by Manfrini letterpress, was limited to two hundred copies and is a very rare find today.”
Depero reinterpreted the symbols in cities’ emblems, and in a way reinvented them. The Trento-born artist added to his illustrations captions that reported the Duce’s boastful mottos and statistical data about every single recreational club.
The images, of course, were beautiful: here is a small taste of them.