Fortunato Depero (1892-1960) was born in the mountainous region of Trentino, North Italy, attending the Scuola Reale Elisabettina, an applied arts institute. He was a painter, a sculptor, decorative artist, poet and writer as well as an interior, stage, costume and graphic designer. This exhibition featured 108 of his works, showing the range of media in which the artist excelled.

Depero first encountered Futurism in 1913 at an exhibition of drawings and sculpture by Umberto Boccioni in Rome. He subsequently met Marinetti and other Futurist artists with whom he exhibited at the Galleria Permanente Futurista in Spring 1914. Shortly after he was invited to join the group he held his first one-man show in Rome, and published the influential manifesto Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe with Giacomo Balla, his mentor.

After meeting Sergei Diaghilev of Ballet Russes fame Depero developed a passion for theatre. Through his theatre commissions he developed close working relationships with Russian avant-garde artists as well as Gilbert Clavel, the Swiss poet and Egyptologist, with whom he worked on Balli Plastici in 1918.

From 1919 Depero and his wife Rosetta dedicated themselves to the design and production of applied arts – cushions, tapestries and advertising posters – and expanded into interior decoration for commercial premises such as the Cabaret del Diavolo, a night club in Rome. Depero won international prizes and top positions for this work: between 1925 and 1933 he was in charge of publicity for Campari. Though his later works lack the vivacity of the early years, he never abandoned his Futurist theories and continued to exhibit throughout the 1950, lastly in his own museum and living workshop.

The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Trento and The Lowry Centre, Manchester.

Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau on the set of La Notte by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960 © Sergio Strizzi Photography

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Pasquarosa, Vase of Flowers, c. 1916

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