DESIGN: Gabriella Crespi – The Sign and the Spirit exhibition. The Sign and the Spirit exhibition at Palazzo Reale was a tribute to Gabriella Crespi’s artistic life in Milan, her city of origin and fulcrum of the whole creative story. The exhibition was curated by her daughter and close collaborator Elisabetta Crespi and Cesare Cunaccia. The multi-functionality of Crespi’s furniture is her trademark. Her creations range from the ‘metamorphic’ tables, to libraries that become room partitions, the innovative seats convertible into beds, and her focus on nature translates in whole collections made of natural materials, in the creation of zoomorphic objects, silver or gold, with a real ostrich egg or hand-blown glass. Always, in Crespi’s work one feels that ‘search for the infinite’, the theme to her whole existence.
The Catalogue. The bilingual Italian/English catalogue is published by Electa. The book is a journey of images and texts, it follows the thematic areas that characterize the exhibition and contains contributions by: Ambra Medda, Stella McCartney, Natalia Bianchi, Massimi Martignoni, Cesare Cunaccia, Alessandro Del Bono, Cristina Del Bono Ferruzzi, Mario Boselli and Franca Sozzani.
Gabriella Crespi – The Sign and the Spirit. Elisabetta and Gabbriella Crespi. The artist-designer, sculpture, muse and inspiration for international fashion designers, an ambassador of Italian style in the world, Gabriella Crespi is an intensely charismatic figure who in two decades of activity, the Sixties and the Seventies, has gone through many creative disciplines, leaving an indelible mark on taste formation in our time.
Gabriella Crespi – Rising Sun – 1974-1975 # 1. In this thematic section Gabriella Crespi treats nature symbolically, and the sun, figurative and emblematic focus of all this specific theme, becomes a ‘totem’. A whole collection made of bamboo; material much loved by Crespi that, as she herself says ”unites strength and flexibility.” Part of this collection are the famous “Fungo” (mushroom) lamps, 1974. A fan made of bamboo rays often generating from a central golden sun decorates chairs trays, a beautiful cradle, a large screen and the sizeable oval dinning table, that extends ad infinitum.
Above: The “Gocce Oro" (Golden Drops) is a creative project that was also entirely designed and created in 1974. Objects for the table of sculptural impact, with remote and fairy-like golden sparkles. These are glasses, goblets, candlesticks, and an extraordinary cutlery set in 24 kt. gilded bronze characterized, as some of the pieces of joaillerie, by free flowing wax castings. The golden drops that name the collection introduce surreal, elusive and mysterious elements to the game of the classic setting of the table.
Gabriella Crespi – Rising Sun – 1974-1975 # 2. In the foreground the Cradle in bamboo and brass, in the background, the Fungo lamps and the fan table described above.
Gabriella Gabriella Crespi – Animali – 1970 – 1974. The marked, constant and affectionate attention for the natural world that is to be found in Gabriella Crespi’s fervent work path has been through the years a centerpiece motif. The animals could not then be left out of her creative work, such and extremely diverse, unpredictable and fascinating field that the artist has managed to convey with vivid truth and at the same time through a fantastic, almost magical approach. Many of the sculptures that fill Gabriella’s bestiary, are made by a bronze or gilded silver lost wax cast, sometimes with the use of a real ostrich egg or hand-blown glass. Of particular note the refined “Struzzi” (ostriches) and “Aironi” (herons), ethereal and dancing, the “Vasca Ippopotami” (hippos bath) and the little deer crouched in a regal stylized pose, is almost life-size.
Gabriella Crespi – Unicum – 1970 – 1979. In the development and subsequent achievements of Gabriella Crespi’s art of poetry, there are special pieces of furniture and objects that are not part of various thematic areas experienced by the artist-designer, the so-called “Unicum”. Among these are the famous "Kaleidoscopes” 1970 that, by issuing graphic plots of reflections of light create an atmosphere of great charm, the linear folding chair “Jacare” 1975, made of stainless steel, and steel mesh or leather and brass, which takes its name from a medium sized Amazon Cayman; and the sacral volume table “Ara”, 1979, solid Lebanese cedar worked with bush-hammered stone finish. Particularly worthy of notice is the “Z” writing desk, 1974, made of brass sheets, which takes its name from the facing pillars that hold up the work top through the use of retractable drawers, characterized by the shape of the last letter of the Italian alphabet. Finally the decidedly sculptural “Tronco” (trunk) vase, yet again in 1974, made of bronze with lost wax technique it stimulates a small hollowed out tree trunk, just as the elegant containers for Chinese and Japanese calligraphy brushes and the beautiful Maternita (Motherhood) from the same year, also made in lost wax bronze, which, a Gabriella Crespi explains, spontaneously emerged suddenly from the matter while she was holding a piece of clay, almost as if dictated by an autonomous creative urge, by an immediate inspiration of the soul.
Gabriella Crespi – Jewllery. The collection of jewels was designed in 1974. It includes chains, necklaces with pendants, earrings, bracelets, brooches, rings and buckles. All made of a light copper alloy covered by a 24-carat gold plating. Crespi uses precious and semi-precious stones with symbolic value and powerful colors, such as heliotrope and amethyst geodes, small sapphires, pearls, Rocca crystals, superb fossil-shells dating back to fifteen million years ago. Conceived through the ancient precious process of lost wax casting, they are similar in their elusive and dynamic consistency to the barbaric splendor of the Golden Drop collection. In 2008 Gabriella Crespi, showing a vitality and uncommon feel for contemporary styles and art she accepted an invitation by Stella McCartney to study a limited re-edition of five metamorphic jewelry pieces in bronze, semi-precious stones, and crystals made in the Seventies, to be presented in Paris at the opening of the British designer’s flagship boutique. All the proceeds went to the Haidakhan Charitable and Research Hospital in India, an ophthalmic hospital founded by Crespi’s spiritual guide Sri Muniraj, where Crespi spent twenty years of her life following a spiritual path voluntarily interrupting her artistic career.