In the second half of the 20th century, Italian design attained worldwide recognition. The Milanese photographers Aldo Ballo and Marirosa Toscani Ballo played a considerable part in this success. By communicating the beauty and function of objects as well as their cultural meaning, the Ballos photographs contributed significantly to the mythological status that surrounds Italian design even today.
In Spring 2013, Bellevue Arts Museum
, a leading destination in the Pacific Northwest to experience art, craft and design, presents Zoom. Italian Design and the Photography of Aldo and Marirosa Ballo. Organized by the prestigious Vitra Design Museum in Germany, Zoom is on view from March 15 through June 16, 2013 and BAM is the only U.S. venue to feature this seminal exhibition.
Aldo and Marirosa Ballo were sought‐after object photographers for magazine covers, advertising campaigns and editorial articles from their outset in 1953 until Aldo Ballos death in 1994. Their collaborative work coincided with the heyday of Italian design. From Albini, Aulenti, Bellini and Castiglioni to Colombo, Mendini, Pesce and Ponti, Sarfatti, Sottsass and Superstudio, there was hardly a design icon from that era that was not photographed in their Milan studio. The Ballos distinct and somewhat abstract presentation, using precise, clean settings and a restrictive selection of props, illuminated the sculptural qualities of the design object. These exquisite, dispassionate shots not only emphasize the beauty and functionality of the objects, but lead to a broader discussion of the relationship between object and image which in doing so influences our perception.
Drawn from a collection of nearly 146,000 photographs in the Studio Ballo archive, Zoom showcases roughly 300 photographs, alongside books, magazines, posters and film clips, as well as over 70 legendary design classics, including spectacular artifacts like Archizooms seating landscape Safari from 1968, and masterworks such as Mario Bellinis stereo system Totem from 1970. The exhibition also examines the intense dialogue between objects, media and marketing that first facilitated the worldwide dissemination of these designs, formulating this story as a discourse about empathy and interpretation, and about the signs of the times and their transmission into the future.
Zoom builds on the enthusiasm for the popular 2011 ‐ 12 exhibition, George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher. It continues BAMs commitment to bringing world class design exhibitions to audiences in the Pacific Northwest.