Marc Chagall Ottavio Missoni. Sogno e Colore

A poetic and happy dimension

Marc Chagall is one of the great contemporary masters who may have inspired the artistic work of Ottavio Missoni as well as having had a similar experience in their respective ‘cultural roots’. There are numerous traits that these two characters have in common, starting with their surprisingly similar biography. In their youth they are both forced to suffer the discriminatory policies of governments towards the minorities to which they belong and this exile leaves a profound mark on them which shines through in their artistic production. Both live with three different ‘homelands’: Marc Chagall is of Jewish origins, was born in the Russian Empire and was later naturalized as a Frenchman. Ottavio Missoni is of Dalmatian origins: childhood in “my Ragusa…”, adolescent in Zara, moved to Trieste after the exodus and then to Milan and Gallarate. Here in 1953 with his wife Rosita he established his business by transferring the knitwear workshop he had to Trieste: “… Because in Trieste it is perhaps easier to launch a ship than to make a shirt”. Both have a wistful love for their childhood. To revive Zara, all we have left are memories: a magical fairy tale that in the end raises the doubt that it never existed. Or perhaps it now exists only in the heart and in the desperate love of its citizens scattered throughout the world”. Both have a very strong bond with their wife who is an active part in their artistic work: Bella is the muse and subject of Marc’s paintings while Rosita is the one who inspires and applies Ottavio’s artistic work, transforming it into Fashion, maintaining the Art-Fashion link throughout their career. The bright and energetic colors that are found in their work and that convey optimism and happiness hide a sort of childish naivety that makes their language genuine and of immediate impact. Missoni’s studies are colored geometric sketches in pencil and marker on squared paper like the one used in school. The fabrics and tapestries are made from them, the highest expression of Ottavio’s artistic creativity. milio Tadini says: “The Missoni style is essentially determined by colour… by color itself… it has that sort of alphabet of light which becomes colour… color is the foundation of every idea and every form… having brought back color in clothes in an absolutely substantial way is the great merit of the Missonis”. Balthus, thanking him for a pullover received as a gift, wrote to him: “To Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, masters of colour, with gratitude”. Chagall was close to many avant-gardes but never fully adhered to any of them. In the same way Missoni creates a timeless unique and personal language. lavio Caroli says about him: “Missoni is a painter in the fullest, magical, alchemical sense of the word: he knows and practices the secrets of chromatic impasto, glazes, highlights, with the instinct of an immemorial practice… Missoni has an advantage over his colleagues, not being forced by school constraints to force himself within the limits of a predetermined “image”, he can vary rhapsodically among the most diverse visual stimuli”. The dream is that psychic production that takes place during sleep and is characterized by images, perceptions, emotions that take place in an unreal or illogical way. In Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ the dream is the ‘royal road towards the discovery of the unconscious’. In sleep, in fact, the control of consciousness over man’s thoughts is lost and his unconscious can therefore freely emerge, disguising itself in symbolic images. The dream above all proposes images. The figurative production can, therefore, be more immediate for the direct and immediate representation of the dream. Ottavio loved to sleep and his mother indulged him, so much so that she often let him sleep instead of sending him to school, so as not to make him nervous. On the other hand, she gave him many books and this love of reading inherited from her mother and cultivated during the period of imprisonment in Egypt when she spent her days reading became her school of thought. Later it will be the tavern, where a group of talents who called themselves ‘La Banda di Brera’ frequented: intellectuals such as Crippa, Peverelli, Tadini, Dova, Morlotti, photographers such as Ugo Mulas, Alfa Castaldi, Dondero but also intellectuals and journalists like Gianni Brera and others like Mario Soldati, all united by being “free-headed friends, odd types who don’t fit into ‘trades’ bands or cultural or political bands”, without bosses to please, but free. I have always appreciated the fantastic component of Chagall’s work. It’s fairy-tale reality in the dream, figurative elements of memory that break up in a colorful world communicating an optimistic dimension of life. I can say the same about the artistic work of Ottavio Missoni, my father, where his Tapestries are made up of scraps of colored knitwear illustrating memories. As he himself describes “…each piece must be carefully observed as it has its own history and taken individually they have their own life…” and assembled together they recreate a new colorful harmony. A poetic and happy dimension. Luca Missoni


Skip to content