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April 29 - October 18, 2009
The exhibition explores the large-scale decorative works created by Galileo
Chini at the San Lorenzo Furnaces for the Berzieri Thermal Baths at
Salsomaggiore. Chini’s artistic expression reached its apex with his
decorations for the Berzieri Thermal Baths. Influenced by his long journey
in the Far East from 1911 to 1914 he combined exotic, Eastern influences
with elements derived from deco, while remaining sensitive to Secessionist
The exhibition also documents the collaboration between Chini and the Florentine architect Ugo Giusti, who together with Giulio Bernardini designed the building of thermal baths between 1912 and 1923. The group collaborated on the Tuscan pavilion at the 1911 Ethnographic Exposition in Rome. The remarkable and incomparable quality of the decorations of the Berzieri Thermal Baths was the fruit of a stylistic evolution already worked out by Chini in the numerous elements in grès produced for the enlargement of the Tamerici Thermal Baths at Montecatini, done in 1910 on a project by the architect Bernardini. In the last few years it has been the object of a series of specific studies that have contributed to the preservation and valorisation of the items on display today.
The exhibition creates a connection with the Wolfsoniana’s permanent collection, where two majolica flower holders by Chini, expressly done for the Berzieri Thermal Baths, are on display. It is also enriched by documentary materials preserved at the Chini Archive at Lido di Camaiore and by other heirs of the artist, including a perspective view of the first version of the Berzieri project and by some posters, including the one designed by Chini in 1923.
The exhibition, curated by Silvia Barisione, Maurizia Bonatti Bacchini, Matteo Fochessati and Gianni Franzone and conceived by Maurizia Bonatti Bacchini, has been organised by the Wolfsoniana - Fondazione Regionale per la Cultura e lo Spettacolo in collaboration with the City of Salsomaggiore Terme and Terme di Salsomaggiore e di Tabiano SpA and is part of the 2009 International Majolica Festival.
Galileo Chini (Florence 1873-1956), painter, potter, illustrator, set
designer and costume designer. Influenced by the theories of the English
Arts and Crafts movement which dissolved the distinction between the fine
and applied arts, Chini founded “L’Arte della Ceramica” factory in 1896, and
later abandoned by Chini in 1904. Then in 1906, together with his cousin
Chino Chini, he opened the “Fornaci San Lorenzo”. A major innovator in the
field of ceramics, Chini adhered precociously to Art Nouveau taste,
successfully presenting his production at the biggest international
As a painter from 1901 to 1936 he regularly participated in the Venice Biennial exhibitions: in 1907 for the room The Art of Dream he painted the decorative panels admired by the King of Siam, who three years later called on him to fresco the throne room at the royal palace in Bangkok.
In addition to the decorations done on numerous occasions for big international expositions (Milan 1906, Brussels 1910, Rome 1911, Paris 1925), we can also mention those for the Cassa di Risparmio bank in Pistoia in 1904, for the Tamerici Thermal Baths building at Montecatini in 1910, for the Gran Caffè Margherita and the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Viareggio in 1922, for the Cinema Centrale and the Florida nightclub in Sanremo in 1925.
At Salsomaggiore in 1925, after the success of the Berzieri Thermal Baths, he decorated the Moorish salon, the red tavern and the caryatids room at the Grand Hotel des Thermes, now the Palace of Congresses.