Maria Montessori and Bruno Munari
Falkland Floor Lamp 1964

 

 

Touching beauty: Bruno Munari and Maria Montessori

Can beauty be perceived, recognized and appreciated through touch?

 

 

 

 

 

Touching beauty: Bruno Munari and Maria Montessori
Touching beauty: Bruno Munari and Maria Montessori

There are three Italians who revolutionized the twentieth century:

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian educator, pedagogist, philosopher, doctor, child neuropsychiatrist and scientist, internationally renowned for the educational method named after her.

Bruno Munari, (1907-1998) was one of the greats of Italian art, design and graphics of the 20th century.

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944) was an Italian writer, poet, playwright and soldier. He was known first and foremost as the founder of the Futurist movement

But what do these icons have in common?

Touch

Maria Montessori and Bruno Munari
A room of the exhibition

A beautiful exhibition at the Palazzo delle Exposizioni in Rome lets us highlight one aspect of Bruno Munari’s work: tactile art, the art of touch.

In this regard, the encounter between Bruno Munari and Maria Montessori could not have been more prolific.

He worked with Maria Montessori in conceiving and constructing wooden “toys.” 

The tools used in Montessori’s famous educational method had a primary function for her, that of developing and bringing out the most creative part that lives in each of us. 

Maria Montessori and Bruno Munari
High Voltage

Theirs was an incomparable union in the service of human, spiritual and intellectual growth, based on love for things and for all that surrounds us; an approach antithetical to the contemporary one that is all based, to extremes, on scientific knowledge. 

Here, there is a striking point that emerges from the exhibition: the primordial importance of touch, touching things, and especially contact between us human beings.

In these times, we have been denied the ancestral pleasure of an embrace between people, and the consequences of that are difficult to measure.

Now let’s hear from the exhibition’s organizers. 

 Tactilism Manifesto by Marinetti
Manifesto Tactilism by Marinetti

 

 

In January 1921, in Paris, the leader of Futurism Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (Alexandria, Egypt 1876 – Bellagio 1944), presented his manifesto “Tactilism.”

Marinetti praises tactility and its value and spends a section of the manifesto on the education of touch.

The father of Futurism suggested a new form of art, tactile art, which he considered a new medium that has nothing to do with traditional sculptural arts.

 

 

Together with the manifesto, Marinetti presented a tactile board “Sudan-Paris,” made of different materials, conceived as a “journey of hands” to be experienced without the aid of sight.

For the first time, materials were not used for their visual or expressive qualities but for the sensations they transmit upon contact with hands, sensations that assume a codified meaning.