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“Controversial but kind. Beautiful, sharp and savory”

A memory of Nanda Vigo

May 20, 2020

At the Triennale Decameron, Stefano Boeri, President of Triennale Milano, the curator Paola Nicolin, the Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries in London Hans Ulrich Obrist, the critic Cristina Morozzi and the designer Martino Gamper recalled Nanda Vigo (1936-2020), an essential figure in Italian and international art, architecture and design, who, with her work, has always anticipated times and trends.

The link between Nanda Vigo and the Triennale goes from her participation in various editions of the International Exhibitions to the present day, with the invitation to think about a work for the exhibition by Enzo Mari.

Nanda Vigo, Global Chronotopic Experience, 2017, Spazio San Celso, MIlano, foto Marco Poma. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo

 "Nanda Vigo trained in Switzerland and then moved to Italy and took root in the Milanese scene. Friend of Gio Ponti, companion of adventures and projects of Manzoni, Castellani and many other artists of her generation, she was one of the first artists who, as curator, was able to interpret the work of her friends in a brilliant and rigorous way. I want to remember her participation in the 1973 Triennale with a series of performance events on the staircase of the Palazzo dell'Arte". The curator Paola Nicolin introduces the designer, giving the floor to the President of Triennale Milano Stefano Boeri who recalls: "A figure who has connected different worlds. Nanda Vigo has been a meeting point of creative spheres: architecture, fashion, art. I remember, when I was directing 'Domus', the transformation of Gio Ponti's project Lo scarabeo sotto la Foglia into a house built in Malo. Nanda Vigo entered this shell, designing, together with Giobatta Meneguzzo, the interiors with a material power.

I want to share a second, more recent memory. While preparing the exhibition dedicated to Enzo Mari, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, we decided to commission a space dedicated to children from Nanda Vigo. I remember the first meeting with Nanda, when entering the space and starting to think about Mari, she lit up saying: 'I would like to make a rabbit of light, because the rabbit is the only animal that Enzo has not drawn'."

Nanda Vigo, Macte Termoli. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo
Nanda Vigo, Macte Termoli. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo
Nanda Vigo, Macte Termoli. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo
Nanda Vigo, Macte Termoli. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo
Nanda Vigo, Palazzo Reale, Milano, 2019, Neverended light e Galactica sky. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo
Nanda Vigo, Palazzo Reale, Milano, 2019, Neverended light e Galactica sky. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo

From Lea Vergine for Nanda Vigo

Lea Vergine - curator, art critic and friend of Nanda Vigo- wanted to share a memory of the designer:

 

"Nanda Vigo won't be coming back this time from one of her many big, long trips. She's gone, all of a sudden. Vigo was one of the very few Italians who attended art alongside Fontana, Manzoni, Castellani, the Japanese group with Domoto, the German group with Otto Piene, starting in the early Sixties. The most international of all because of her culture (often unsuspected, she did not boast of it), a polemical but intimately kind personality. So I remember her, and also beautiful, sharp and sapid.

"DON’T STOP, GO WITH THE WIND THROUGH THE LIGHT, OF COURSE ACTIVATE!" Nanda Vigo via @hansulrichobrist Instagram

Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator, critic and artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries in London, recalled the first moments of meeting Nanda Vigo in 2017 when, on the occasion of the exhibition Take me I am yours in Hangar Bicocca, he interviewed the designer and visited her studio and the final moments as curator of the exhibition dedicated to Enzo Mari. "Nanda Vigo's studio was a total work of art, a Gesamtkunstwerk. One could experience how art and life were inseparable for her. I remember asking Nanda about her beginnings in the world of design. She told me when as a child she was evacuated to Como with her family and, walking, she found herself in front of Giuseppe Terragni's Casa del Fascio: in that moment, at the age of seven, she saw glass blocks, and natural, artificial light. She saw, as a child, infinite possibilities." Hans Ulrich Obrist continues: "I was interested, when I met her, in talking about her never realized projects, her dreams. She told me how her work was not about cities, but about sign posting. If she had built a city it would have been just an 'anti-gravity city', a city in the clouds."

"Il progetto [per la mostra dedicata a Enzo Mari] consiste nel realizzare gli animali del suo zoo grandi circa 2 metri per 2 metri, in tondino di ferro con LED di svariati colori"
Nanda Vigo, 2020. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo

Italian designer Martino Gamper met Nanda Vigo and studied her work, which became a source of inspiration for him: "She had a very direct, very honest way of being. Nanda Vigo is one of the few masters, in Italian design we always talk about masters and we have many of them and the fact she was a master is important because women were few and she was one of the last great masters to leave us. As Stefano also recalled, she was a Renaissance figure, straddling disciplines".

Nanda Vigo, Light progressions, 1993, Omaggio a Gio Ponti. Courtesy Archivio Nanda Vigo

 "Nanda was a free woman: much more adventurous than the adventurous, much younger and ahead of the young." Cristina Morozzi, journalist and critic, shared some personal memories of the years of friendship lived together with Nanda Vigo that "give account of this freedom".

"Nanda loved Africa very much, she had a house in Malindi and one day she came back from one of her trips with a dog, a Rhodesian bridge, and I remember the afternoons in the gardens of Via Pallavicini with our dogs. In 1982, Nanda Vigo had been appointed Commissioner of the Kenya Pavilion Art Bienniale and we met for a dinner organized by her at the Monaco, just renovated by Piero Lissoni, and she introduced me to the beautiful artist who exhibited at the Pavilion. Together with us there was also the artist from Bari Tarshito (Nicola Strippoli). An extraordinary, surreal dinner. Nanda had a wonderful happiness of life."

"When she was designing for Driade, the company commissioned her to set up the shop windows during Christmas. I remember that Nanda imagined porcelain animal figurines of various kinds on the banquets, like cribs. It's an incredible storytelling, modernity and irony."

Credits

Cover image: Ritratto, Cronotopia, 1964, foto Nini e Ugo Mulas

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