Collezione Maria Signorelli





The Puppets - I fantocci - of  Maria Signorelli




Life of Maria Signorelli

Puppets of Maria Signorelli  

The Puppets of Maria Signorelli - i fantocci

The fairy tales, nursery rhymes and films

Shows with classical and modern texts, films

  The ballets of Maria  Signorelli



Podrecca Fund 

Trieste puppets


19th-20th century Italian rod and glove puppets

18th century Italian marionettes 

19th-20th century Italian marionettes 

20th century foreign rod and string puppets 

Eastern and Wayang puppets and marionettes

Sicilian, Pugliese and Neapolitan puppets  


Shadow puppets


Toy rod, glove and string puppets    

Seven trunks of stage properties

  Paper and card theatres, sets and characters   



Italian and foreign literature on the history and techniques of puppet theatre

Toy theatres  

Scripts of puppet and marionette plays  

Posters of puppet theatre productions and festivals

The exhibitions


Maria Signorelli's series of puppets known as the fantocci are among the most original creations of Italian - and indeed European - figurative art of the early 20th century.   The director Anton Giulio Bragaglia was the first to exhibit them, in March 1929, at his gallery iin Rome; the following year Giorgio de Chirico exhibited them in Paris, an exhibition that then moved on to Berlin. It was the beginning of an international career.

Constructed in cloth, wire and ribbon with the occasional addition of objets trouvés such as mirror fragments, toothpicks and buttons, these puppets are flexible sculptures which, though literary in inspiration, have an entirely self-contained artistic existence of their own.  In them Signorelli gave form to ideas she had found in such disparate sources as Boccioni's  Manifesto tecnico della scultura futurista (1912) [Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture], which liberated modern sculpture by suggesting the possibility of using any material whatsoever to create it; Marinetti's Manifesto del tattilismo (1921) [Manifesto of Tactilism], which favoured tactile qualities over chromatic ones; the bewitchingly poetic irony of de Chirico's metaphysical manikins; and the marionettes of Depero, Klee and Alexandra Exter.  

Maria Signorelli's puppets are distillations of life itself, concentrated in the immediacy of a figurative synthesis - independent three-dimensional characters which have stepped out of the texts that inspired them.  Like Pirandello's "characters in search of an author", which were, hardly coincidentally, almost contemporaneous, they lay claim to the authenticity not of real life, but of what is true to life because it is imbued with the truth of poetic creation.

Patrizia Veroli







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