The First Ever Artist Portfolio Is To Be Reprinted

Pages and spreads from Depero Futurista, Dinamo-Azari, Milan, Italy, 1927, artists book bound with bolts, 32 x 24.2 cm.
Pages and spreads from Depero Futurista, Dinamo-Azari, Milan, Italy, 1927, artist's book bound with bolts, 32 x 24.2 cm. | © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / SIAE Rome All archival images are used with permission of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto (MART), Archivio del ‘900, Fondo Fortunato Depero, except for the images of the Mercurio print shop, which appear courtesy of Marco Zamboni Tipografia Mercurio Rovereto. Project images are courtesy of Designers & Books.
Rachel Gould

Art & Design Editor

Two large metal bolts fasten the avant-garde pages of Depero Futurista: the world’s first artist portfolio. Created in 1927 by Italian Futurist artist Fortunato Depero, ‘The Bolted Book’ boasts an arresting blue cover concealing a curated selection of the artist’s works. Depero originally released approximately 1,000 copies to circulate amongst collectors and patrons, few of which remain on the market today – and the ones that are fetch upwards of $5,000 at auction. But on October 20th, Kickstarter did its thing and kickstarted a new publishing initiative that will aim to “reissue The Bolted Book as it appeared in its original form and return this resonant piece of design history to the present.”

Aside from his status as one of the leading figures of the Italian Futurist movement, Fortunato Depero goes down in history for innovating what is considered to be the first artist portfolio. The monograph, titled Depero Futurista (‘Depero the Futurist’), displays prints of the artist’s favorite and most significant works. But in addition to the importance of the portfolio’s contents, the concept of the portfolio itself was novel – and it set the stage for the modern-day art publication.

Widely referred to as ‘The Bolted Book’ for the two glaring metal bolts fastening the monograph’s 240 pages, Depero Futurista features “bold typographic experimentation, daring layouts, and…work in nearly every artistic and design medium…” The book is an archetypal example of the early 20th century avant-garde aesthetic that characterized the Futurist art movement. Originating in Italy, Futurism (c. 1909-1944) glorified progress and technology. Spanning nearly every artistic and design medium, Futurist artworks possessed aesthetic elements of Abstract Expressionism, Dadaism, Art Deco, and Constructivism. The movement was also prevalent in Russia.

Depero Futurista was, until now, a rarity. But a new collaboration between Designers & Books, the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York, and the Contemporary and Modern Art Museum of Trento and Rovereto, Italy aims to publish the first facsimile edition of The Bolted Book for 90 years.

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