Thursday, October 21, 2010

Everyone Needs Some Gemma In Their Life

Since opening Tiny's, I've gotten several comments on the wonderful papier mache head displayed at the top of my etagere.  She's by the renowned artist Gemma Taccogna, and yes, she's signed.

What? You've never heard of Gemma Taccogna? Well let me tell you, in papier mache circles, she's HUGE.

Gemma began selling her papier mache creations in the 1950's to the likes of designers/retailers like Nina Ricci, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor and Mr. John (who used her large paper heads as hatstands).  I love the mid-century modern vibe you get whenever you look at a Gemma Taccogna face.

In the 60's she moved to Mexico and established a papier mache studio with her husband.  Her whimsmical heads, owls, and cats and assorted creatures number among the very best in mid-century design.  Her heads, in particular, showcase the "porcelain finish" that she perfected in her work -- hard to do with papier mache. 

I just love all the jolly Mexican-inspired colors in her pieces.  Reminds me of sunny California.

When knock-offs of her pieces began to be mass-produced, Gemma closed up shop and moved back to the states.  She continued to create her unmistakably joyful pieces until her death in 2007. 

Gemma has quite the following.  Collectors have included Peggy Guggenheim, the Pulitzers, former President & Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Carole Channing, Mary Tyler Moore, Burt Lancaster, Cliff Robertson, Frank Sinatra, and most recently, Anna Sui.

Why not add yourself to the list?

Much of the info from this post was culled from Evie Elman's site, Spiritual Lasagna.  Evie is at work on a documentary of Gemma which I can't wait to watch.

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