One of this summer’s most amusing and charming acquisitions at the Frick Art Reference Library and the Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a book devoted to Campari, the apéritif favored by the Italian Futurists. Yes, all those manifesti were fueled by the bitter red drink whose recipe has remained secret since its appearance in 1860. In Italy, Campari mixed with soda water has been sold as Camparisoda (alcohol content 10%), in a distinctive bottle designed in 1932 by Futurist member Fortunato Depero (1892–1960).
Source: Wikimedia Commons
This book features many of the witty advertisements and artwork inspired by Campari that were created by Depero between 1926 and 1933. Contemporary designs inspired by Depero are also featured. New York–based illustrator Steven Guarnaccia riffs on the red drink in cartoons, and Italian designer Matteo Ragni has produced the total Campari environment with a red Campari lounge and specially designed barware. Alessandro Mendini states in the introduction that drinking Camparisoda was, and still is, an artistic performance. The book’s designers, corrainiStudio, have extended the act of performance to the book itself. As you pull the book from its case a straw appears to drain the red liquid from its signature bottle.
Mendini, Alessandro, Steven Guarnaccia, and Beppe Finessi. Camparisoda: L'aperitivo Dell'arte Veloce Futurista Da Fortunato Depero a Matteo Ragni. Mantova: Corraini, 2009.
More than one hundred books about Depero can be found in Arcade, the online catalog for NYARC members the Frick, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Brooklyn Museum. All three libraries have artist files for Depero. These files contain photographs, clippings, exhibition checklists, and pamphlets concerning the artist. At the Met, eighty-eight titles are available related to Depero, including the catalog of this year’s exhibition at the Galleria Campari in Italy, Depero with Campari.
Deborah Kempe, Chief, Collections Managment & Access, The Frick Art Reference Library