By Adriana Baranello

Futurist artist, sculptor, graphic designer, and advertiser Fortunato Depero was born 30 March 1892 (d. 1960) near Rovereto. Less well remembered that he deserves, Depero was one of the most significant and lasting 20th century influences on advertising.

Depero was also one of the longest standing members of the Futurist movement, longer than perhaps any save F. T. Marinetti himself. Depero joined the movement in 1913, shortly after moving to Rome. Shortly thereafter, in 1915, Depero, together with Giacomo Balla, published one of the movement’s enduring manifestos, “The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe,” which laid down the path forward from the movement’s earlier destructive drives. 

Depero was one of the movements most prolific and varied artists. His works range from paintings, to graphic poetry, graphic design, industrial design and advertising, as well as to set, costume and puppet design for the theater. Depero’s influence was so great in part because of the time he spent in New York City, producing work for clients that included Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Macy’s.

Depero’s work can be seen as the total environment it was intended to create at the Casa d’Arte Depero in Rovereto. The Casa d’Arte is a small museum in Depero’s house, which the artist also used as an art school and workshop where his wife and a number of seamstresses produced commercially popular clothing, pillows, tapestries and other works in cloth based on the artist’s designs.

Skyscrapers and Tunnel, 1930, tempera on paper, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Rovereto.

Subway, 1929, ink on paper.

Design for the Bestet Tuminelli Treves Editore Pavilion, Milan Book Fair, 1927, plaster model.

Advertising poster for Mandorlato Vido, 1924, lithograph, Archive of Massimo and Sonia Cirulli, Bologna.

Fortunato Depero and Fedele Azari, Depero Futurista, 1927, lithographs, cardboard and bolts. Matteoti Collection, Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice.

Design for Campari Soda Bottle, 1932.

Fortunato Depero and Francesco Cangiullo in Futurist Waistcoats, 14 January 1924, on the occasion of a reproduction of Compagnia del Nuovo Teatro Futurista, Turin.

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