Paolo Colombo’s “Le Esposizioni Universali. I mestieri d'arte sulla scena del mondo (1851 – 2010)” was published by Marsilio Editori and the Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art with the support of Fondazione Cariplo and Fondazione Germozzi. The volume illustrates, through the lens of artistic crafts, the fantastic, often troubled history of the Universal Expos: from the first World Exposition held in London in 1851 to the futuristic architecture of Shanghai 2010, the wonderful products of the most prestigious artistic crafts, representing the cream of each nation’s production, are exhibited, celebrated, concealed or rediscovered in the fair pavilions.
An in-depth study of period documents, publications and Expo guides has allowed the author to paint a historical fresco that develops on the idea of progress, work and discovery. Colombo sheds light on the dialogues between artistic craftsmanship and the expressivity, uniqueness and transmission of artistic and economic value that is the banner of each country’s national heritage. Paolo Colombo reconstructs a historical context full of references and explores the institutional reasons behind each Expo, and how these choices determined their evolution.
The volume’s fitting, expressive and mostly unpublished images were accurately selected by the Cologni Foundation to illustrates the relationship between the architecture, the spaces and the professions in an entirely new way, highlighting both the products and the makers, without disregarding the places, the main protagonists and curiosities of the Expos.
“Le Esposizioni Universali” opens the debate on the role of Universal Expositions in our contemporary, globalised society, explaining the function that artistic crafts can play in them, especially in the case of a country like Italy. The book analyses how and to what extent Italy’s challenge – which culminated in Expo Milano 2015 – is specifically connected to artistic crafts.