By  on February 14, 2006

MILAN — Missoni's zigzags and wavy patterns again have become artistic works to be displayed in a museum.

This time, Ottavio Missoni's tapestry, made with swatches of the brand's iconic multicolored patterns, is on display at the main museum in the city of Gorizia, in northeastern Italy. The exhibition, titled "Kaleidoscope Missoni," bowed Feb. 11, which was also Missoni's 85th birthday, and will run until June 4.

In addition to Missoni's experiments with fabrics and materials and his entire personal collection — 40 pieces of patchwork wall rugs and tapestries — there are more than 100 pieces from the brand's ready-to-wear collections. The exhibition is organized by decorative motifs — multicolored stripes, zigzags, flames, graphics and geometrics. Although the installation is traditional, with rugs hanging on the walls and mannequins, there are also two "flying," suspended carpets. The Gorizia exhibit follows other prestigious shows, including those at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art in 1978, the Guggenheim Museum in 1994 and London's Victoria & Albert Museum in 2003.

"It's a multisensorial walk through the Missoni world, where visitors may see, touch and feel images, drawings and fabrics," said Raffaella Sgubin, superintendent of the museum. The Gorizia museum is located in the striking 18th-century palazzo Attems-Petzenstein, a work of architect Nicolò Pacassi, who also designed the Royal Palace in Schönbrunn, Austria. "The palazzo is sort of a royal palace on a smaller scale that perfectly enhances Missoni's works," said Sgubin.

Luca Missoni, the exhibition's curator, said the style of the imposing and majestic palazzo, with its large spaces, is a perfect backdrop for the dimensions, colors and designs of the wall rugs, which are being shown together for the first time. "There is even an existing wooden floor with geometrical patterns, similar to our own patchworks," he said.

Ottavio Missoni, in his usual laid-back and easygoing manner, said he started creating tapestry as a need to decorate the huge spaces at the exhibition site Rotonda of the Besana in Milan in 1978 for a fashion show. When designing the wall rugs, his father sometimes worked on commission or had items reproduced for the home fabrics collection.Although Missoni downplays any artistic inclinations and shies away from the attention of museums and art foundations, he believes a hands-on approach is preferable, be it directly or through his son, Luca, who coordinates exhibitions around the world and manages the company's archive and history.

"You must thoroughly know the ins and outs of the company and how it works," he said.

For his part, Luca Missoni firmly steered clear of nostalgia. "We were aiming at a contemporary mood, a feeling of going back to our beginnings and starting all over again," said Luca, Ottavio's youngest son who is also creative director of the brand's men's wear and Missoni Sport collections.

Ottavio Missoni, born in Dalmatia, across the Italian border, has increasingly become an icon for the neighboring Friuli Venezia Giulia region, which he represented at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, with a three-dimensional wall rug art piece that also is being shown in Gorizia.

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