The exhibition devoted to graphic design and glass art for aperitifs, sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is intended to illustrate a graphic and pictorial field that entails an immersion in the brand values of companies, recounting their corporate culture and offering a cross section through the history of advertising.
It also has close ties with the territory of the industrial areas of Northern Italy and Canton Ticino, since a special federal law enacted in the late nineteenth century ordained that only alcohol – hence also aperitifs – produced in Switzerland could be served in the confederation or exported from it. The result was that in the early years of the twentieth century, numerous Italian companies set up branches in Chiasso and the rest of Ticino. They included Campari, Carpano, Cinzano, Cynar, Martini, Zucca, alongside the Ticinese firms Franzini, Gazzose Galli, Ferrario, Pintails, Peri, Noè and Gildo.
By the end of the nineteenth century the art of drinking toasts denoted a mode of convivial gathering. The exhibition explores, through their graphic expression, the various transformations of the modes of the pleasure of social drinking, from the Belle Époque to the Deco period and the post-war recovery of the dolce vita to the contemporary happy hour, a phenomenon that takes on the values of a social ritual.
The exhibition presents a highly pleasurable visual heritage with flyers, posters, playbills, placards, menus, calendars, advertising graphics, metal and ceramic signs, logos, as well as designer objects such as tables and chairs, not to mention items used in drinking aperitifs: designer glasses with various logos, coasters, ice buckets and soda siphons, all highly refined in their imagery.
The exhibition emphasises not only the passion for aperitifs and the sharing of a moment with a domestic and social significance, but also a cultural phenomenon that has its roots in civil life, corroborated by skill in mixing drinks.
The purpose is to provide an outline of a true history of communication by major companies, such as Branca, Campari, Carpano, Cinzano, Cynar and Martini, as well as the Ticinese Franzini and Galli, which entrusted their image to distinguished artists, including Marcello Dudovich, Leonetto Cappiello, Fortunato Depero, Adolf Hohenstein, Franz Laskoff, Mario Gros, Achille Luciano Mauzan, Leopoldo Metlicovitz, Plinio Codognato, Marcello Nizzoli, Lora Lamm and Armando Testa, to name only a few.
The exhibition is the result of close collaboration with the Civica Raccolta di Stampe “Achille Bertarelli” in Milan, the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, the Museum Gebrüder Thonet in Vienna and the corporate archives of important producers of aperitifs. It also presents works from some of the most important private galleries and collections in Europe, with particular reference to those of Alessandro Bellenda, Marco Agosti, Marco Gusmeroli, Valerio Bigano, Nicola Corti and Uberto Valsangiacomo.