- Also known as
primary name: Munari, Bruno
- individual; painter/draughtsman; Italian; Male
- Life dates
- Text from Martin Hopkinson, 'Italian Prints 1875-1975', BMP, 2007
Born in Milan, Munari began work as a graphic artist in 1925. The following year, he met Marinetti, and became associated with the Futurist movement. Munari soon became deeply involved with book design, and it was in this field that he made some of his greatest contributions to art and design. He took up the mantel of Fortunato Depero. In 1934, he designed the cover, and contributed 11 lithographs to Tullio d'Albisola's outstanding futurist book, 'L'anguria lirica' ('Lunga poema passionate'), published in Rome and Savona by Edizioni Futuriste di Poesia - Litolatta. As a sculptor, Munari was influenced by constructivism in his 'Macchine aeree' of 1930, which were followed in 1933 by his kinetic 'Macchine inutili'. This title probably reflects a temporary interest in Surrealism. Munari knew the mobiles of Calder, while Prampolini introduced him to the work of Vantongerloo and De Stijl. He also made animated cartoons. In 1935, Munari was inspired by Man Ray and Moholy - Nagy to experiment with photograms. These led eventually in the late 1940s and 1950s to his 'negativi positivi'. Munari made ceramics with Tullio d'Albisola, and designed toy theatres for the 1936 Milan Triennale. The work of Herbert Bayer, and the 'Bauhausbücher', was important for his interest in radical innovations in typography and graphics.
After the war, Munari was very active as an industrial designer involved with mass production. His 1945 alarm clock, 'X Ora', in which rotating half disks replaced conventional hands, has been claimed as the earliest multiple, although it was not actually put into production until 1963. Also in 1945, his 'Bruno Gigi cerca il suo berretto', published by Arnoldo Mondadori, was illustrated by bold colour lithographs, each of which had a moveable flap that revealed another image beneath. This was a children's book, a field in which Munari made an outstanding contribution over the next 40 years. At the same time, he produced 'Libri illegibili', book objects that had no text. Their content consisted of geometric figures, transparent sheets, tracing paper, perforated, pierced and torn pages, and rigid sheets of black or single bright colours. Munari also experimented with projecting light through plastic, and, in 1963, made a coloured- light film, 'I colori della luce', accompanied by electronic music. His post - war sculpture had affinities with the works of Arp and Gabo, while in its use of motors it prefigured Tinguely.
With Dorfles, Garau, and Monnet, Munari was included in the 1948 exhibition, 'Arte Astratta e Concreta', at the Galleria di Roma, and he was also a participant in 'Arte Astratta Italiana e Francese', arranged by the Art Club at the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in 1953. He exhibited with Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris in 1951. Munari had no less than four exhibitions under the aegis of M.A.C. between 1949 and 1955. It was in the pages of the group's journal, 'Arte Concreta 10', 1952, that he published his 'Manifesto del Macchinismo', 'Manifesto dell'Arte Totale', 'Manifesto del Desintegrismo', and 'Manifesto dell' Arte Organica'. Munari contributed a screenprint to M.A.C.'s journal, 'Documenti d'Arte d'Oggi', in October 1954, and a linocut to the 1956 - 57 issue of the same periodical.
Munari's most inventive printmaking was in the field of xerography, with which he started to experiment in 1964, working with Rank Xerox. He obtained his prints by moving the image during the five second period that it took for the light to cross the screen. Munari's xerographs included abstract geometric shapes, lettering, textured and moiré effects, and futurist like motorcyclists. He had the first of several exhibitions of these prints at Rank Xerox in 1965, and published a book, 'Xerografie originali', with the firm in 1972. In addition N. Zanichelli published a set of Munari's xerographs in Bologna in 1977. By the 1970s, he was making them in colour. He continued to make xerographs into the 1980s. Eugenio Carmi's Galleria del Deposito in Boccadasse published a screenprint by Munari in 1969, and Lanfranco Bombelli Tiravanti's Galería Cadaqués issued a portfolio of 11 of his screenprints in 1975. He called these pictographs 'scrittura illeggibile di popolo sconosciuto'. Munari turned five of his designs of the 1930s into screenprints, and included them in the portfolio, 'Bruno Munari 10 opere grafiche originali 1930 -1970', which was published in Como in 1979 by Direzione Artistico Paolo Minoli, Edizione R.S. He continued to make screenprints in the 1980s and 1990s, including at least one on an aluminium sheet in the manner of Pistoletto in 1994.