- Pietro Chiesa
- Chest of Drawers
- walnut, glass, brass
'Alcuni Rimarchevoli Pezzi di Fontana', domus, no. 132, December 1938, p. 41 for a related example
'I Mobili 'Essenziali' di Pietro Chiesa', domus, no. 234, March 1949, p. 38 for a related example
Laura Falconi, Fontana Arte: Una storia trasparente, Milan, 1998, p. 208, fig. 75 for a related example
Franco Deboni, Fontana Arte: Gio Ponti, Pietro Chiesa, Max Ingrand, Milan, 2012, figs 181 and 183 for related examples
Gio Ponti’s words are nothing less than a perfect description of the furniture designs of one of the undisputed masters of crystal, Pietro Chiesa. In a career lasting less than thirty years, Chiesa’s entire oeuvre presents us with a man whose life was fiercely dedicated to this most evocative and mysterious material.
Beginning in 1919, Chiesa’s three year apprenticeship with designer and glass maker Giovan Battista Gianotti no doubt formed the basis for the founding of his ‘Bottega’ in 1921, where his genius quickly became apparent. Refusing to be limited to the styles of the time, and on the advice of Gio Ponti, Pietro Chiesa joined Fontana Arte in 1934. It was here that he continued to reinvent himself, devising new and innovative ways to push the boundaries of crystal to its absolute limit.
This rare chest of drawers is one of his most successful designs, and represents the ideal consummation of what Gio Ponti described as ‘an absolute purification of the elements.’ The fire of the furnaces is evident in its flowing, curved surface. The means of producing such large, complex pieces to Chiesa’s exacting standards required technical abilities of the highest degree. ‘Pietro del Vetro: the miracles of fire and light continue to enchant my ever virginal spirit… are the dire fires at last extinguished and glass become glorious light?’ pronounced the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio whilst awaiting a commission from Chiesa in 1925.
Today the designs of Pietro Chiesa continue to enchant and entrance. Their mystery and form situate this cabinet perfectly amongst the contemporary canon of artists such as Anish Kapoor who continue to pursue reflectivity in their own works. Chiesa’s radical approach to crystal serves as testament to his own contemporary way of thinking. Gio Ponti declared his designs as ‘works of abstract art’, and defined his contributions in crystal as a gift to the world: ‘When we wish to give presents and go to choose them at Fontana Arte, there is always Pietro Chiesa who in turn gives us a present: the gift of ever new and pleasing ideas, enchanting ‘inventions’, executed by Fontana with the perfection of which Chiesa is the most demanding director and master.’