Bag of Tricks

by Natasha Wolff | September 14, 2021 11:00 am

Giampaolo Bertozzi and Stefano Dal Monte Casoni’s obsessive attention to detail and almost undetectable mimicry in their ceramic sculpture goes beyond deception. The hyperrealism of their work allows the viewer to interpret and absorb the meaning of the artists’ symbolism on a deeper level than just the appreciation of the exquisite craftsmanship.

Bertozzi & Casoni[1] founded their artistic practice in 1980 in Imola, Italy. They work in multiple ceramic mediums while employing both traditional and experimental techniques that take their sculptures far from the banal world of conventional ceramic artistry. Their subjects encompass the derelict, the mundane and the macabre. Overflowing waste bins, dozens of empty eggshells on a silver platter and a disembodied gorilla’s head displayed on a plate have all been crafted with meticulous detail in polychrome ceramic.

The humble handbag, the ultimate amalgamation of utility and luxury, was the inspiration for several painted sculptures created by Bertozzi & Casoni. Each purse is representative of a venerable, illustrious woman. The “Luisa[2]” sculpture takes its name from Marchesa Luisa Casati, the eccentric Italian heiress, socialite and patron of the arts that enraptured European society. The marchesa lived at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which now houses the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The bag is sculpted in its open state to reveal exquisitely detailed items within. Art works from the Guggenheim collection can be found in the bag, including a miniature copy of Yves Tanguy’s “The Absent Lady” (1942) and Constantin Brancusi’s “Sleeping Muse” (1910). A recreation of Peggy Guggenheim’s signature butterfly glasses, designed for her by Edward Melcarth, is included as well. These diminutive objects combined with the incredibly realistic knit gloves and delicate butterflies that appear to have just landed on the bag allow the viewer to be a voyeur to a brief, fleeting moment that has been frozen in a state of stasis.

  1. Bertozzi & Casoni:
  2. Luisa:

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