color photography on aluminum
47 x 67 x 2 cm
18,50 x 26,38 x 0,78 in
Ed. 9 + 1 AP
€ 5.000 (plus tax, if applicable)
Around half way through the 1960s, Testa, using the fotocolor technique, began a personal artistic research: he creates a series of covers, photographs and greetings cards in which the represented subject – food – is taken apart, analysed and immersed, through photomontage, in anomalous contexts in such a way that paradoxical situations are created. Starting from the famous “Lampadina Limone” conceived in 1968, Testa’s imagination had further examined all the inexhaustible potential of this theme, even managing to imagine mortadella and ham as perfect, sculptural drapery. Amongst these works, “La poltrona” made of ham realised in 1978, comes to mind, as well as “Invito al party” and “Tavolo con scarpine” (both created in 1980): the first represents some mortadella folded into the shape of an envelope, the second depicts a table covered by a table cloth of folded mortadella next to a pair of high-heeled shoes, concerning these works Testa affirms: “When I made the ham armchair I was very happy. Not only because it was an original idea, but also because it was sumptuous: the idea in itself of curling up in ham was physically new (…) That greasy fat from the mortadella table assails me, it’s a reality that I like … I think how strange, how thick it would be if I put it on top of my hands.”
Armando Testa was born in Turin in 1917 and began work as an apprentice printer at the age of just fourteen, while attending the Scuola Tipografica Vigliardi Paravia where he was taught by the painter Ezio D’Errico, who would introduce him to modern and contemporary art.
In 1937, just twenty years old, he won a national competition held by the magazine “Graphicus” for the design of a poster for ICI, a manufacturer of printing inks. Testa’s proposal, which was preferred over those of established commercial artists, was a very simple abstract pattern on a black ground which clearly reflected his interest in Bauhaus graphics.
After the war, where he was engaged as a photographer, he went back to Turin and resumed his activity as a printer. He opened a small studio and started to work for important companies like Martini & Rossi, Carpano, Borsalino and Pirelli.
In 1956 he founded the Studio Testa, an advertising agency that did not confine itself to graphic design but produced commercials for television too. Armando Testa sensed the possibilities of this new medium and accepted the challenge of investing in it, setting up small film studio alongside the agency where he also experimented with avant-garde techniques of animation. Out of this would come in the fifties and sixties characters, images and campaigns that were destined to become points of reference in the world of advertising and icons of the collective imagination: from the figures of Caballero & Carmencita for Caff. Paulista to the sphere suspended above a hemisphere for the aperitif Punt e Mes, Pippo the blue hippopotamus for Lines diapers, the actor Mimmo Craig performing to a soundtrack of music by Grieg for Olio Sasso and the blonde Solvi Stubing for Birra Peroni.
In 1958 he won the competition for the official poster of the Rome Olympics of 1960. His proposal would later be rejected but at the second edition of the competition, the next year, Armando Testa was proclaimed winner once again.
In 1965 he was invited to take up the chair of Design and Typographic Composition at Turin Polytechnic, where he would teach until 1971. Subsequently, in 1968, he received the Gold Medal of the Ministry of Education for his contribution to Visual Art, while in 1975 the Federazione Italiana Pubblicità awarded him its own Gold Medal for the success he had achieved abroad.
In 1978 the Studio Testa became Armando Testa S.p.A., with offices also abroad. It is still the most important advertising agency in Italy today. In the eighties he began to devote more of his time to painting. During these years Armando Testa put great effort in the ideation of designing posters and trademarks for cultural and social commitment institutions. Among his bestknown works of this period are those for Amnesty International, the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, the Teatro Regio in Turin, Expo Arte, the Turin International Book Fair and the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea.
In 1987 the City of Turin bestowed its “Il Torinese dell’Anno 1986” award on him and in 1989 the Colorado State University in Fort Collins made him an honour laureate.
Exhibitions devoted to his paintings and advertising work have been held by many museums and institutions in Italy and abroad, including the PAC – Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan (1984 and 2010), the Mole Antonelliana in Turin (1985), the Parsons School of Design in New York and
Los Angeles (1987 and 1988), the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid (1989), Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (1993), the Israel Museum of Jerusalem (1993) the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (2001), Castel Sant’Elmo in Naples (2001) and the Italian Institute of Culture in London (2004) Sintesi 59, public sculpture inauguration for the city of Turin (2015), MART - Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (2017), Musei Reali - Sale Chiablese Torino (2018- 2019). His works are also present in a number of important museum collections, such as the MoMA – Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione of the University of Parma and yet many others.
Armando Testa died in Turin on March 20, 1992.