Alessandro Colizzi - Bruno Munari and the invention of modern graphic design in Italy, 1928-1945
This study examines Bruno Munari’s work as a graphic designer from the late 1920s to mid-1940s, with the aim of understanding the emergence and characteristics of the modernist trend in Italian graphic design.
Taking shape in Milan, an original ‘design culture’ eclectically brought together two quite different strains of Modernity: a local tradition represented by the Futurist avant-garde, and a European tradition associated with Constructivism. Munari (1907–1998) worked simultaneously as painter and as advertising designer.
Concentrating on Munari’s stylistic development, the study seeks to explore the interaction between the Futurist visual vocabulary and conceptions coming from architecture, photography, abstract painting, and functionalist typography that trickled in from central and northern Europe. The discussion positions the designer in his time and place, concentrating as much on the artefacts as on the broader cultural framework. Secondly, the study attempts to assess Munari’s reputation against a body of exemplary work, based on firsthand documentation.
It is the first extensive, detailed record of Munari’s graphic design output, and as such provides a substantial base for a full understanding of his œuvre.