MAX INGRAND (1908-1969)
Fontana ArteA selection of works from the 1930s-1960sPrior to becoming a prolific and successful creator of designed objects under the name of Fontana Arte, Luigi Fontana was the premier manufacturer of plate architectural glass in Europe through his company Luigi Fontana & C., which was established in 1881.The popularity of plate glass as a building material among architects and engineers of the early 20th century allowed Luigi Fontana & C. to expand and experiment in the domestic realm. In 1930 Fontana appointed Gio Ponti as artistic director, laying the foundation for adding the production of light fixtures, furniture, mirrors and objects to the portfolio of Luigi Fontana & C. Three years later, in 1933, the company acquired the workshop of Pietro Chiesa, which became the catalyst for the creation of a division specializing in modern furnishings, titled Fontana Arte.Under the leadership of Ponti, and later of Chiesa, Fontana Arte began its creative endeavors with a focus on utilizing the artistic and technical applications of glass and crystal making to modern furnishing. The desire to maintaining the artisan quality rooted in manufacturing practices of the past, and partnering them with the contemporary applications of design is what can be defined as the mission statement of Fontana Arte. An extremely important contribution by Gio Ponti to Fontana Arte, in addition to his design genius, was his ability to draw a sophisticated collecting clientele. This clientele allowed Fontana Arte the freedom to focus extensively on refining and prototyping, rather than on sacrificing quality for the purpose of mass production. It was because of Gio Ponti that Fontana Arte was able to partner innovation with manual skill, expanding its material vocabulary outside of art glass and crystal. When Pietro Chiesa became the second artistic director of Fontana Arte in 1933, he brought along an extensive expertise in employing glass as a material in high-quality furnishings. This expertise suited him well in his new role and contributed enormously to the design and creation of Fontana Arte lighting pieces of the time. Fontana Arte’s direction under Chiesa was unfortunately interrupted in 1943 when he suffered a heart attack. Chiesa was eventually able to resume his work after World War II, but passed away from another heart attack in 1948.In the years following Chiesa’s death, Fontana Arte was led by several members of its inner circle, most notably by Roberto Menghi. Ponti was invited to return to his role as artistic director, but declined the opportunity from the company he considered “the love of his life.” The focus fell on finding a suitable heir to Pietro Chiesa that would be able to continue working within the design vocabulary Chiesa and Ponti had established at Fontana Arte. Max Ingrand began his leadership of Fontana Arte as artistic director in 1954. Ingrand was selected at Ponti’s recommendation, and encouraged by the Saint-Gobain leadership. Continuing the unparalleled work in avant-garde lighting that Chiesa had established for Fontana Arte, Ingrand furthered the manufacturer's legacy in light fixtures throughout his career. In an eerily similar conclusion to Chiesa’s leadership at Fontana Arte, Ingrand’s direction of the company was untimely concluded with his sudden death in 1969 at the age of 61.The works presented here highlight the design evolution of Fontana Arte from the 1930s to 1970. The diversity of works, ranging from lighting, furniture, and objects, articulate the vernacular that Fontana Arte strived to pair with the exemplary manufacturing practices of Luigi Fontana & C.Ugo CasatiWe would like to thank Ugo Casati for his assistance with this selection of Fontana Arte works.
MAX INGRAND (1908-1969)


MAX INGRAND (1908-1969)
produced by Fontana Arte, Milan, model 2044, faceted, tinted, and mirrored glass, brass
29 1/8 in. (74 cm.) diameter
Private collection, Texas.
Fontana Arte catalog #2, p. 24 for another mirror of this model;
Fontana Arte catalog #6, p. 157 for another mirror of this model;
R. Aloi, L'Arredamento Moderno, Milan, 1955, p. 22 for another mirror of this model;
Domus, n. 382, September 1961, for an advertisement for another mirror of this model;
Vitrum, no. 125, 'Stand di Fontana Arte alla 39a fiera di Milano', May-June 1961, pp. 28, 33 for another mirror of this model;
P.-E. Martin-Vivier, Max Ingrand du Verre à la Lumière, Paris, 2009, p. 216 for a highly comparable mirror;
F. Deboni, Fontana Arte - Gio Ponti, Pietro Chiesa, Max Ingrand, Turin, 2012, pl. 427-28 for another mirror of this design.

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