Roberto Grimani

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Goldsmith's art

From "THE GOLDSMITH" of Edoardo Saronni 1927 and from notes of Fedele Caffini, chiseller in Milan


The Goldsmith's art was surely the first art to appear, even if rudimental, as the first expressive form when the desire of the beautiful awoke in Man. From this all other art forms derived, as Man proceeded from the desire to embellish himself to the desire to adorn what was around him.

Our ancestors, still wild, living in caves and in pile dwellings, used anything to decorate their body, and afterwards their dwellings: twisted yarns, asymmetrically gathered shells, leaves, feathers, nails, animal bones and coral.

The tattoo itself, forgive me the paradox, is an embryonic form of the goldsmith's art. It was begun with the repetition of the same leaf, of the same coral, of the same little shell, identical for each of the circles of the neck, the arm and the foot; later small pieces were alternated with big ones, and finally centres were formed, and tinier pieces were arranged around them in a variety of harmonious ways to break up the geometric monotony, arriving at an aesthetic vision of shape and colour, which preceded the birth of sculpture, painting and a sense of perspective.

And thus we arrive at a harmonious feel for the whole, with the interweaving of animals and refined arabesques, up to our times. Color shines in glazes and golds, sparkles in gems with a pleasure that passes from the eyes to the heart.

Inspiration can come from any beautiful thing, and its surroundings: from the magnificence of a sunset, to the delicate shading of the dawn; from a branch full of flowers, from a dry thistle, from a peacock to a beetle, from the solemn sparkling of a starry night, to the subtle web of a spider.

But the goldsmith's art does not end at the jewel glowing with precious stones; he decorates centrepieces, flowerpots, coffee sets, dishes, amphoras, trays, and he doesn't treat the richness of the materials so much as the gracefulness of line and the attitude.

Those who observe with an eye filled with love draw the same pleasure from artistic creations as from a rich light landscape, or a mellow and moving musical piece.

A sure guide to this can be simple and sincere inspiration and the desire to express one's own personal way of seeing and feeling, without apparent effort, after intimate and mature reflection, as if the work had come about spontaneously, because just piling up lines and patterns without plans has always meant the decadence and impoverishment of inspiration even in our art.




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