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L’Italia di maglia

For the sixtieth anniversary of the Italian-Dalmatian reunion, which will be held on 28–29 September in the Italian town of Abano, an Ottavio Missoni arras representing his two homelands, Italy and Dalmatia, has been chosen to celebrate the occasion, along with limited-edition postcards. Ottavio was born in 1921 in Ragusa (known as Dubrovnik), an Adriatic port city that is now part of Croatia, but it was Italian territory at the time. He was very attached to the region and loved to return there to holiday with his family.

This landscape arras, designed in 1992, and many other tapestries by Ottavio have been exhibited in modern art galleries around the world. They represent just one expression of how knitted cloth has been elevated to its own art form. The creations, with varied abstract motives, wild landscapes and tactile three-dimensional surfaces, were not only innovative, but actually resembled modern paintings or, as journalist Enzo Biagi commented, “Ottavio draws landscapes of the world with his plots.”

Ottavio’s designs, which combined multi-coloured zigzag, stripes, check and wave patterns in unexpected shades and colour combinations, were highly influential and even recognized for their artistic merit. An article from the Seventies by Ferruccio Landi, entitled “Missoni, a Work of Art in Pullover Size”, as well as the Italian photographer Alfa Castaldi referred to the creations of Missoni as “transavant-maglia” – a “knitwear” spin on the name of the Transavantgarde movement.