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Grottaglie is keeper of the historical memory of ceramics, conservative values and traditional forms, renewing their handicraft products with always prudent effort, rational, motivated by the choices of both technical and functional character, both artistic fonts.

The story of this fascinating work you can follow on the basis of the materials used for the most important manufactures, their ornaments, their shapes and their colors. In this way it is possible to identify a line of continuity that comes from the medieval period to the present day, starting right from some artefacts found by chance in 1989 under the Bishop's Castle and that are similar to those found in the convent of S. Benedetto a Manduria, also of the Middle Ages. These last, studied and restored in 1990 by graduates of the Restoration of the State Institute of Art Grottaglie, thanks to the perfect similarity found with those found in the same Grottaglie, have provided valuable testimony concerning the constitution of the mixture used, the variety of forms, the type of decoration executed and the choice of colors.

The activity medieval pottery grottagliese can be placed in relation to the occupation of the southern lands by the Saracens, that would have influenced the styles productive at all times following. E ', however, likely that these styles were reached by other means, such as the Venetian and Spanish before then. For centuries, the activity was directed mainly to the production of bricks and bricks for building, furnishings and objects of common use, to respond to demands coming especially from the peasant class.

The main cause of a production that all the five hundred has a rustic character, away from the schemas Faenza, has certainly been the lack of presence in Grottaglie of feudal princely courts or that they could commission a ceramic finer and therefore more expensive. In the senso, particular importance is the examination of the documents preserved in the State Archives of Naples, published by the scholar Nicholas Vacca Salento, which demonstrate the presence in Grottaglie from 1663 specialization "faenzara", used to indicate the manufacturer of enamel objects ingobbiati, certainly imported from neighboring Laterza where exactly this production was flourishing. The lack of a significant number of items signed or explicitly indicated as originating in Grottaglie in the XVII-XVIII, is explained by the fact that the products were identified with the directions of the recipient, almost always belonging to the nobility or the rich bourgeoisie. This suggests that in Grottaglie were produced art objects, commissioned by the nobility of neighboring towns, especially from Martina Franca, where was this a small courtyard, that of Caracciolo, but where was found an almost total absence of the potters in the registers Onciari.

The seventeenth century saw the persistence of medieval decorative motifs and the refusal to incorporate the mode. It is noted, instead, the influence of the Venetian glassware and ceramics have had on ceramic Salento in particular on Grottaglie, due to close trade relations.

The eighteenth century was rich in production "faenzara", well represented by big names, quali Francesco Saverio Marinaro (1705-1772), who made of pottery, often for pharmaceutical use: the albarelli, decorations or ornaments of classic and neoclassic, using in particular the color blue, purplish. Other famous potter was Ciro Lapesa (1756-1826), that has certainly been influenced by the Neapolitan school, as evidenced by a bowl preserved in the collection of the State Institute of Art Grottaglie, decorated with festoons and floral elements but mistakenly says trained in Capodimonte.

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Particolare bottega ceramica

By the nineteenth century we are witnessing a definite cessation of handmade ceramics in many neighboring towns, first of all Laterza, ma anche Martina Franca e Taranto, due in particular to the introduction into the market of alternative materials such as metals and plastics. Grottaglie facing such a state of crisis by opening the 1887 School of Art, which was to give a new impetus to the technology sector and start a best production.

Between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many craftsmen have established laboratories in various Italian towns, creating real schools from scratch. Even the introduction of new machinery, which the machine crusher, the mixer and the electric lathe helped in this regard.

With the passage of time, the element that remains constant is the distinction of the different productive specializations, maintained throughout the twentieth century until today, with its descendants and sottofiloni. These strands are those of the art "capasonara" and "faenzara". L'arte 'Capasonara' is also defined in other ways that complement or are identified in the following items:

– i “capasoni” (containers that could reach up to three hundred liters of capacity in which were stored wine, oil and water);

– the "yellow stuff" (containers intended primarily for common use, such as for example containers or jugs biansati trilobate as struli or quartaruni) subjected to ingobbiatura, wet clay that is burning or yellow colored honey, obtained with the use of oxides of iron and lead, whose quantity is dosed according to the tone that you want to give to the surface;

– la “roba rustica” (household objects and farmer such as for example the Craste for laundry) subjected to a single cooking, without paint, hence its name "rustic", indicating the nature of their bill very coarse.

With art faenzara, also referred to as "white stuff" it is customary to identify a ceramic instead slipped and glazed surface (Other names are "fine stuff", or "gentle" or "thin" that indicate specific functions), subjected to greater care during the process that gives shape to items you need most elective, sometimes only decorative (ornaments, decorated tiles, panels, services serving).

 

 

As regards the decorative motifs, I must say that, capasonara by category, we prefer the single color: green, marrone, yellow or milky white; on particular jar is made a decoration derived by primitive, which bases its effect on the use of two tones of the same color or irregular casting enamel coating of the container only on the top. To beautiful effect is also incised decoration, Always primitive ancestry, with its geometric patterns such as: lines, meanders, where, or floral spirals, very simplified. On the production faenzara, instead can be found in the eighteenth century the Arab influence; rare, is almost non-existent in fact the human figure and when it appears, and this happens especially in the nineteenth, this is part of the artistic trend developed on the rediscovery of regional costume. Most typical and applicants are the figures of animals such as the cockerel, polychrome in red, blu, orange, symbol of virility, clear echo of the Arab, but also butterflies, volatile and the whole range of flowers and fruits of the earth of Puglia. Geometric patterns of Greek manganese or cobalt are made sometimes as the only frieze of the object, in other cases go together with figurative decorations. In realtà, what distinguishes the iconography executed by the potter grottagliese is translated into a "dialect" of iconography cultured. The potter grottagliese, in fact, used and still uses today, a rich palette of colors such as green verdigris, the green bough or antique green, cobalt blue, yellow ocher and brown ferruginous manganese that combines exclusively according to his creative impulse, immediate, spontaneous. In the decoration of objects of type greek, instead, he scrupulously follows the canons of decorative and technical aspects of the past. Here it, after careful documentation by using the consultation of specialized texts, the colors are faithfully reproduced both typical of ancient coroplastica, figures in both black and red, that the decorative motifs and stage performances often depicting mythological or heroic. Other made-up characteristic, belonging to the ceramic tradition of the nineteenth century are the grottagliese "Pupae” e i “Trees”. The Pupae consist in a bottle resembling a woman dressed flamboyantly and ruddy. According to the tradition of the time, all the young girls, to get married, had to spend the first night of love with the arrogant lord. One day a farmer, to prevent such an outrage to his betrothed, studied a naive ruse and disguised as a woman, appeared overnight at the princely palace in replacement of the bride, but having forgotten to shave off his mustache, was immediately discovered and immediately executed. So to remember those sad times, the "potters" Grottaglie thought it best to achieve this kind of "doll" in ceramics.

I Trees are artifacts rather than vaguely reminiscent of stylized flower buds, which traditionally replace the ornamental plants of terraces and balconies. They have a rounded shape and terminating rule to tip; can be smooth or furrowed by concentric striations that make it assume the appearance of a large "cone" (as they are called or commonly associated). Sometimes the basis leaves are applied modeled in relief, which form a sort of cup jagged. Are covered with shiny glazing monochrome or polychrome decorated with ornaments of various kinds. The base is perforated to allow you to insert them above the two screws located at the ends of the metal balcony railings, balconies and windows. In Grottaglie, still, Most of the houses in the older part of the country, are characterized by this typical ornament.

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