GianCarlo Montebello was born in Milan, where he still lives and works. After graduating from renown art school “Scuola d’Arte del Castello”, in 1958, he began to develop an interest for interior design.At that time Montebello was influenced by his relation with Italian artists Carlo Scarpa and the Castiglioni`s brothers, Achille and Piergiacomo, who inspired him to transpose his natural inclination for design into fine arts. In fact, few years to come and, on 1967, Montebello launched, along with Teresa Pomodoro, a metal smith lab that was made available to those influential artists, and to many more.
Further on, he established his brand name GEM, which produced and edited artistic jewels designed by artists such as Cesar, Sonia Delaunay, Piero Dorazio, Lucio Fontana, Hans Richter, Larry Rivers, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jesus Soto e Alex Kattz. These are only a few amongst the many artists Montebello worked with between 1967 and 1978. At that time, he also curated group exhibits that displayed the work produced by GEM in museums and independent art galleries wordwide.
Yesterday, polaroid Man Ray 1973
During the spring of 1970, in the marvelous scenery of Paris, Montebello made another life changing meeting: he was introduced to Man Ray. Internationally acclaimed artist became Montebello's mentor and they staid connected for many years to come; their friendship lasted until just a few months before the master departed, in 1976. Montebello is used to reassume what he had learned from master Man Ray into the following sentence: «il m’apprend la simplicité des choses» (he taught me the simplicity of things).
From 1972 to1976, Montebello also made several trips to the United States, especially to New York, where he engaged in a series of collaborations with local gallery owners and art collectors.In 1978 he temporary ceased his promotional support of other artists, in order to promote his own work as a jewelry designer.
Today Ph Angelo Coletto
Montebello's studio lab, located at Via Lamarmora 15, in Milan, is now the designe's privileged space, where artistic mises en scène (stagings) are ongoing. The first ornament that Montebello designed and manufactured is Punto Colore (color point), which is intended to have mobility as its main characteristic; in fact, this ornament lives exclusively of an intrinsic polyhedral “wearability” and the consequential wearability choice of the ones who wear it. Having Punto Colore as a milestone in the artistic expression of a life time, this characteristic of mobility has became so recurring in Montebello`s aesthetic, to be considered the most authentic artistic inclination of his work.
Another remarkable achievement in Montebello`s career is his active intervention in the creation of the first department of jewelry design at the European Institute of Design in Milan.
At IED he also taught a class in design and construction techniques during the academic years 1984, 1985 and 1986. During the first half of the nineties, Montebello completed the body of work started in 1983 and titled Ornamenti per Bradamante (Ornaments for Bradamante).
This series of jewels manufactured in stainless steel mesh and precious materials, is a clear manifestation of the aesthetic of a “jewel to wear like a dress”, which can fit various styles and have multiple ways to be worn.With the body of work titled GEM MONTEBELLO, Giancarlo Montebello was included in the two prestigious exhibitions “The Italian Metamorphosis”, curated by Germano Celant for Guggenheim Museum in New York (1993-1994), and “New Times, New Thinking:Jewellery in Europe and America”, curated by Rulph Turner for Craft Council Gallery in London (1995-1996). In the book by Luisa Somaini and Claudio Cerritelli, “Cinquant’anni di gioielli d’artista italiani”, published by Electa in 1996, various jewels produced by GEM are featured, amongst which, some are signed by GianCarlo Montebello. At the moment Montebello`s research focuses on the study of materials and their features, and especially how these are compatible to some specific shapes, rather than others. This kind of research continues the rich “storia per figure” ( history through figures) of Montebello`s ars combinatoria (the art of combining), which main element of which is, and will always be, the relation to the body.
Tomorrow BodhGaya
Ph Fabrizio Melocchi
Extract from a biography by
Elisabetta Longari