Vincenzo Agnetti and the magazine “Domus”

Founded in 1928 by initiative of Gio Ponti, Domus magazine is still a reference point for the world of architecture and design, not only in Italy. At first it was published with the subtitle “Architecture and decor of the modern home in the city and the country” and was conceived as an organ for the spread of a new taste driven by the renewal of architecture, furnishings and the decorative arts, which in Ponti’s view should join forces to define the characteristics of the “casa all’italiana.” Its design – as Ponti writes in the famous editorial of 15 January 1928 – “does not come solely from life’s material needs, it is not simply a ‘machine à habiter.’ So-called ‘comfort’ does not exist in the casa all’italiana merely to respond to necessities, to needs, to life’s conveniences and the organization of services. Its ‘comfort’ lies in something superior that gives us, through architecture, a measure for our very thoughts. It lies in safeguarding our customs through its simplicity, in giving us with its generous welcome the sense of a confident and rich life, and finally in its easy, cheerful and ornate opening outward to communicate with nature, the invitation the house offers to our spirit to re-create itself in restful visions of peace: herein lies the full meaning of that fine Italian word CONFORTO.”

In short, for Ponti and for Domus, the home is a place for self-regeneration inside which art, in all its forms, plays a key role: this is why alongside the publication of articles on the most important figures of the worldwide design scene or curious columns on gardening and cuisine, from the outset the magazine featured the writings by or about modern artists. Alongside the mentor Le Corbusier, and the young protagonists of the Italian scene like Franco Albini, Achille Castiglioni or Vico Magistretti, Domus presented thoughts and works by Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti, Massimo Campigli, Francesco Somaini and many others.

After a short hiatus without Ponti (during which the helm of Domus, starting in January 1941, was handed over to various architects and critics, from Massimo Bontempelli to Giuseppe Pagano, Melchiorre Bega and Ernesto Nathan Rogers), among the contributors to the magazine the name of Vincenzo Agnetti stands out: in the 1970s, the Milanese artist wrote articles on the art of copying from life, the figure of the master Lo Savio, the relationship between concept and experiment; Agnetti also granted one of his last interviews to Domus, conducted towards the end of 1979, and in 1981 the magazine published one of the artist’s first collections of aphorisms and principles. The total of fourteen essays represents an interesting cutaway view of the theoretical work of Agnetti.