Scassa’s Tapestry Weaving Mill (Arazzeria Scassa)
Translation by Marina Dlacic
“… Reading a work through its translation into a tapestry requires a very refined analysis of the compositional, chromatic and material structures. It is through this analysis that I can direct the work of my weavers. I believe that the art of the tapestry maker is comparable to that of a concert master”
(from an interview by Franco Fanelli with Ugo Scassa)
The “Arazzeria Scassa”, the only tapestry weaving mill still active in Italy, is located inside the Certosa di Valmanera near Asti; the monastery also houses the restoration laboratory and the Scassa Museum.
The manufacture began its activity in 1957 thanks to the enthusiasm of its founder, Ugo Scassa. Under the name “Italia disegno”, mainly hand-knotted rugs are produced, then, since 1960, a tapestry weaving workshop has been set up with high-heddle looms.
That same year, the “Arazzeria Scassa”won the competition for the decoration of the party room of the transatlantic Leonardo Da Vinci with the presentation of 16 tapestries; this is also the moment when the collaboration with the artist Corrado Cagli begins, who will remain close to the “Arazzeria Scassa” until 1976, the year of his death.
This collaboration was accompanied by numerous successes such as the decoration for the turbo ships Michelangelo and Raffaello and two other tapestries, preserved in the Pontifical Galleries: Risen Christ and San Giorgio.
Corradi Cagli is just one of the numerous artists who, over the years, joined and contributed to the production of the “Arazzeria Scassa”; the list is long and prestigious and includes, among others: Casorati, Vedova, Guttuso, De Chirico and Renzo Piano who, commissioned the transposition of his drawings in high-curl.
The International Exhibitions consecrated the “Arazzeria Scassa”as one of the most important and recognized of the period, the “I Gemelli” tapestry was exhibited at the III Biennale in Paris and later purchased for the French State Collections.
La ruota della fortuna – Archivio Corrado Cagli, Copyright Corrado Cagli
The echo of the successes obtained multiply the commitment of the manufacture with numerous public and private commissions from all over the world, some of which are particularly onerous for the size of the work, “Europe after the rain” taken from the work of Max Ernst, it measures 204 by 478 cm, and to weave a high hedge square meter it takes around 500 hours of work.
Since its opening, the Arazzeria Scassa has woven more than 220 stained cloths, some starting from original cardboard, others admirable transpositions of works that pay homage to immortal artists such as Klee, Mirò and Dalì.
da Paul Klee “Giardino zoologico” arazzo ad “alto liccio” in lana – 191 x 259 cm. – Tessitura: Arazzeria Scassa – Asti – Asti – Museo Provinciale degli Arazzi Scassa
da Giorgio de Chirico “La torre rossa” arazzo ad “alto liccio” in lana – 196 x 273 cm. Tessitura: Arazzeria Scassa – Asti: Museo Provinciale degli Arazzi Scassa
About thirty tapestries have become part of the Tapestry Gallery which, since 2002, has been transformed into the Scassa Tapestry Museum, associated with a training school wanted by the province of Asti, aimed at teaching the ancient technique of weaving of high heddle tapestries.
The technique used for weaving reflects the ancient technique of high heddle weaving, although the core of the ancient knowledge has remained unchanged, the various processing steps have been speeded up through some innovations introduced in the various processing steps.
In the wake of the Italian tradition, Ugo Scassa prefers to choose cardboard from the whole pictorial production of the individual artist, unlike the French who directly commission the cardboard with characteristics suitable for transposition in a tapestry. The choice of the Italian tapestry maker gives maximum freedom of expression to the painter who is not bound by the limits of the future use of the work but also to the weaver who will have the responsibility, with sensitivity and competence, to make the pictorial and chromatic effects of the cardboard better . The different interpretative possibilities become the signature of the tapestry maker, increasing the quality and artistic value of the artefact.
Ugo Scassa (fonte Corriere – Torino)
The chosen sketch is projected, through a slide, on the warp threads and reported with an indelible mark, thus allowing greater graphic fidelity of the transposition; before starting the real weaving, the necessary material is selected and dyed, which will compose different skeins multiplying the possible chromatic effects. The large monochrome backgrounds become vibrant, the shades are not made by the hatching technique but, with the iridescent fabric technique.
The chromatic play reveals all the sensitivity of the tapestry maker who simultaneously possesses the vision of the finished work and the effect that, the detail he is working on, will have as a whole.
Ugo Scassa died in 1988 but his work continues with the commitment of his family.