Franco the Obscure

On the heels of yesterday’s long windbaggy post on The Zizkov Television Tower, it seems like a good time for a refreshingly short design post with lots of nice images and mercifully little text.

Today’s subject is Franco Grignani:


An Italian designer working in Milano, Grignani started experimenting in the early 1950s with radical black-and-white abstract compositions that paved the way for Op Art:


(Interestingly, this is a logo for a wool company (edit: reader MM reminds me that it wasn’t for a wool ‘company’– rather, it was the universal symbol to indicate clothing made from wool in Italy, like the cotton mark nowadays.))





He also did some more conventional advertising pieces that show a easy surety with color, style, fashion:




Historically, Grignani is an unaccountably murky figure. The internet has almost nothing to say about him. And it’s come a long way in recent years– at least one can find images of his work online these days. I remember researching Grignani as a student back in 2002 and I literally had to go the public library to find a single sample of his work.

Presumably, part of Grignani’s obscurity stems from his association with the second wave of Futurism and its off-putting associations with Fascism. Another reason might be the fact that, as far as I can tell, he seemed to be his own island, so to speak, producing works that had no close parallels and seemed to inspire no immediate legion of imitators. It’s a puzzling little cul-de-sac of graphic design history.

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