The 2000s

La Pietra’s great themed exhibitions in previous decades found further echo in his way of working used for the exhibition Dai giornali ai portali (From newspapers to portals). This exhibition could have been a straightforward review of all the tools that have contributed to the development of news, yet he took the opportunity to make the exhibition design itself into a “work”, once again demonstrating his method of working: take a theme and find the best way to represent and communicate it.

In this decade, as well as continuing to articulate his attitude to communication through exhibitions, La Pietra doggedly continued his labours as editor of Artigianato tra Arte e Design magazine (The craft world, from art to design). He used this publishing vehicle for many years to present all the artistic craftsmanship endeavours that were active in Italy, endeavours bound up with the culture of making, which design culture had gradually eased aside.

These efforts of his about artistic craftsmanship had already found expression in the many exhibitions and collections created in the various areas of artisanal production, thus introducing design culture into brand-new contexts.

Also in the 2000s, a great variety of exhibitions explored the rehabilitation of manual-production values. Examples include the editions about Nanto stone (from near Vicenza), ceramics from Nove, and methacrylate objects, plus the Biennale of Applied Arts in Boario and the great exhibition on contemporary Italian ceramics organised with the Mastroianni Foundation in Rome.

From 2000 to 2007, La Pietra worked on yet another education project, founding the new Department of artistic design for business at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Brera.

It was a great opportunity not only for the Accademia, which finally offered a suite of design-related courses, but also for the applied arts as a whole, which acquired a study and research domain of their own. The department featured innovative new courses (e.g. “Local resources”) and core workshops (such as one on felt), involving 70 selected lecturers, all professionals with wide experience in the field. Two exhibitions in the Accademia’s Napoleonic Hall provided important early fruits of the teaching in this discipline.

This great cultural and organisational effort ended, however, when La Pietra resigned, thwarted by the management was hostile to the project.

Ever the driving force and tireless experimenter, La Pietra continued his work by developing the themes of the applied arts, as art director of the Aldo Morelato Foundation in Cerea.

Through the Foundation’s various activities, La Pietra fostered initiatives at its Villa Dionisi base: from the Il mobile significante (Significant furniture) international prize (with themes such as “Waiting places” and “Welcoming places”…) to the international study days, where a group of scholars and experts tackled topics in the arts applied to furniture. He also founded and set up MAAM, Museo per le Arti Applicate nel Mobile (the museum of the arts applied to furniture).

During this period, La Pietra won recognition for his 40+ years of work from various bodies and institutions. Extensive retrospectives emerged at the Ragghianti Foundation in Lucca (curated by Vittorio Fagone), the Rocca Paolina in Perugia (Elisabetta Longari), the Mastroianni Foundation in Arpino (Luciano Caramel), the Mudima Foundation in Milan (Vittorio Fagone), Palazzo Botton in Castellamonte (Simona Cesana), the FRAC Museum in Orléans (Marie-Ange Brayer), the MIC Museum in Faenza (Franco Bertoni), and Spazio Oberdan in Milan with a collection of his films from the Fondazione Cineteca Italiana archive (Vittorio Fagone).

There were also retrospectives exploring his research in the 1960s and ’70s into the urban environment, along with his many applied-art works (especially his various forays into ceramics). Not forgetting exhibitions discussing his experiences and experiments (especially in the 1970s) at PAC (the contemporary art pavilion) and the Triennale in Milan, the Mole Vanvitelliana in Ancona, and Genoa’s Villa Croce Museum.

The many exhibitions were also accompanied by a series of new pieces and installations. The most important include all his works on territoriality: drawings, canvases, ceramics (Libri aperti – Open books), the Natura installation at the International sculpture exhibition in Aglié (curated by Luciano Caramel), the Unità del Mediterraneo installation in the Atelier exhibition at the Orestiadi Foundation in Gibellina (Achille Bonito Oliva), the many drawings on the theme of imaginary journeys in the Mediterranean, and the great canvases about the L’Aquila earthquake and the anniversary of the quake in Reggio Calabria and Messina.

Some significant experiences were brought to light again through various publications and re-editions of objects.

The book Globo tissurato (Textured globe) discussed all his art and applied-art pieces made with methacrylate; the reissue of the Uno sull’altro (One on top of another) bookshelf, complete with accompanying book, showed the synesthetic relationships between various disciplines (art, applied art, design and architecture), focusing on the design of this bookshelf, made in 1968 by the Poggi company of Pavia; the Strutturazioni tissurali (Textural structures) exhibitions at the Annotazioni d’Arte gallery in Milan and Minimi segni (Minimal signs) at the Artestudio gallery, Milan, reminded the art world of his explorations of the early ’60s through gestural painting and studies where signs become elements that disrupt the predetermined schema (random painting).