Friday 11 January 2013


Fiat 500, Carretta style, Selenunte, Sicily, folk art
Fiat 500 Selenunte, Sicily © Visual Athletics Club 2009

Carretta, sicilian cart, folk art, sicily
La Carretta © Visual Athletics Club 2011
La carretta,  oven gloves, Sicily, photographer Edward Barber
La Carretta pan holders © Visual Athletics Club 2011
Carretta, Sicilian cart, folk art, Sicily
La Carretta section © Visual Athletics Club 2010

A selection of images from Visual Athletics Club illustrating a variety of designed representations of the Sicilian Carretta. Folk art at its finest. Minimalism banished in favour of colour, a raucous celebration of historicism through the embellishment of every available surface. Geometric forms perhaps adopted from previous colonisers of the island - Islamic motifs reinterpreted or a heady mix of psychedelic ornamentation. Chivalric tales - St George and his dragon or an attempt to perpetuate the notion of male supremacy and valour in a deeply matriarchal society? 

Gio Ponti in a 1964 interview in Domus relates his design inspiration for the floors (pictured below) of the Parco dei Principi Hotel in Sorrento.

 "I wanted each of the 100 rooms to have a different floor...The one reproduced here is one of those that I got a lot of pleasure out of inventing. (And I always think of these infinite possibilities of art: given a 20 x 20 cm square, even though everyone throughout the centuries has run riot with infinite designs, there is always a place for a new one, for your design. A facetious friend asked me what would happen after the last designer had made the last design, after all the designs had been made. Well, nothing will happen because there never will be the last design, and there never will be the last designer)."*

The artist in a reflective mode and making a claim for the continual reinvention of design. Design tropes from the Carretta have found their way into other artists work - adopted and adapted into new forms, a decorative minimalism possibly but nonetheless a nod to the splendour of this ebullient style.  

Gio Ponti, Parco dei Principi Hotel, Sorrento, Italy
Gio Ponti's Parco dei Principi Hotel, Sorrento, Italy © Edward Barber 2002
Gio Ponti, Parco dei Principi Hotel, Sorrento, Italy
Gio Ponti's Parco Dei Principi Hotel, Sorrento, Italy © Edward Barber 2002

* Gio Ponti, ed. Ugo La Pietra, Rizzoli International Publications Inc.,
2009, p.363

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