“Palermo, the small capital of Art Nouveau”: historical posters and private furnishings on display

For those nostalgic for the beauty of the artistic trend dating back to the early twentieth century, let’s talk about Art Nouveau , it is possible to jump into the past thanks at the exhibition “Polyhedral and sublime. Palermo, the small capital of Art Nouveau”.

The exhibition can be visited from 3 December to 9 January (it is closed only on the days 25, 26 and 31 December 2021 and 1 January 2022) in the warehouses of the Mediterranean area (l ‘former Marceau space and adjacent) to the Cantieri Culturali della Zisa, headquarters of Legambiente , Sicily delegation.

The inseparable link between architecture and art for decoration and furniture, which had characterized the buildings of the Art Nouveau period, also in the light of the same European experiences, saw the proliferation of artists, decorators and skilled craftsmen in the field of applied arts which confirmed Palermo as one of the centers of Art Nouveau, on a par with Turin and Milan.

From a first phase, still artisanal in which the project and the creation were unique, it soon passed to an industrialized production that saw the birth of numerous companies, small and large, throughout the Sicilian territory.

Never before has Sicily found itself at the center of commercial, artistic and cultural exchanges with other European and overseas countries, overcoming all the difficulties that its being an island certainly posed, and permeated with that optimistic vision of its own Belle Epoque, the Beautiful Era, industrious, sparkling, dreamlike and confident.

“We wanted to recreate that era – explains Gianfranco Zanna , president of the delegation of Sicily – by recovering original furnishings, and not only, produced by Officine Ducrot and almost certainly, for many of those on display, built in these warehouses which, before being divided, constituted the workshop’s carpentry.

In the exhibition there are about 40 pieces including office furniture , prints of posters of the Teatro Massimo, original copies of the Giornale L’Ora, furnishings of private homes such as bedrooms, a complete private studio from the Torino series, chairs and armchairs.

And then the original model of Villa Deliella , kept at the Department of Architecture, a screen and also the 1: 1 scale reproduction of the Pupa del Capo with an original period marble and cast iron table in front “.

There are also about twenty panels that tell the story of Art Nouveau in Palermo and beyond, with a focus dedicated to the Teatro Massimo with an original tile on display.

“We have recovered all these objects from private individuals – adds Zanna -, from the Department of Architecture and also from the Hotel Borsa, former headquarters of the Cassa di Risparmio”.

In recent months, the Legambiente association has also organized other activities, always deepening the trend of the Liberty style; inside the exhibition there is also a video that summarizes the key points in the city that have made the history of this movement.

«I am pleased to anticipate – Zanna told us – that our itinerary will soon become part of the prestigious Art Nouveau itinerary in Brussels. Also Palermo , therefore, will be a small capital of Art Nouveau among the cities that best represent this historical and artistic period ».