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Apprenticing with the best; Atelier 17, Paris France, Ferdinando Marinelli Artisitc Foundry, Floren

Under the recommendation of my art mentor Dick Swift, I journeyed to Paris France to the world famous Atelier 17 established by longtime friend Stanley Hayter. As a printmaker/sculpture major I wanted first hand immersion in the arts and from the best, and I was not disappointed. Stanley William Hayter (December 27, 1901 – May 4, 1988) was an English painter and printmaker associated in the 1930s with Surrealism and from 1940 onward with Abstract Expressionism. Regarded as one of the most significant printmakers of the 20th century, in 1927 Hayter founded the legendary Atelier 17 studio in Paris. Since his death in 1988, it has been known as Atelier Contrepoint. Among the artists who frequenting the atelier were Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Nemestio Antúñez,, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Mauricio Lasansky, K.R.H. Sonderborg, Flora Blanc.

Hayter is noted for his innovative work in the development of viscosity printing (a process that exploits varying viscosities of oil-based inks to lay three or more colors on a single intaglio plate). My time spent at the Atelier was a dream, the facilities were state of the art and the energy of printmakers from around the world made it electric. Although Mr. Hayter only stopped by on occasion, I came away with a new direction and determination in the arts.

After leaving Paris, I traveled to Florence, Italy where I searched out the Ferdinando Marinelli Artistic Foundry. Having studied foundry techniques in the states, I was excited to see how the Foundries in Europe worked and specifically the masters of the Renaissance technique of lost wax. Ferdinando Marinelli senior turned over the foundry to his son Marino to run when I wandered in in the 1970’s. The Foundry was located at Via del Romito (today’s Via Filippo Corridoni) in Florence, it has since moved outside of the City of Florence because of environmental restrictions within the City. I observed firsthand mold making, working of the wax, but sadly was not around for a bronze pour. It was exciting, and it was amazing to be close up and personal with the artisans of molds taken directly from David, Pietra Taccas Porcellino, to name a few.

In 2016, I revisited the Marinelli Foundry now on the outskirts of Florence, and was met by Ferdinano Jr. who maintains the ancient tradition of lost-wax casting. The Foundry is large; encompassing building that house the molds alone. A casting of Pietra Taccas Porcellino greets all that enter the building.

Marinelli Foundry remains to this day one of the last artistic workshops practicing this technique and a benchmark for Italian artisan excellence; I am honored to say I was able to observe firsthand from the best!

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