The connection between art and competitiveness in Italian business

We were reminded today of two wonderful meetings with Stefano Flammini on the role of art and competitiveness in Italian businesses. Stefano is the excited entrepreneur head of FG Group whose consulting engineering activities are based at FG Tecnopolo in Rome (and the world). Stefano related his experience about the role of modern art in architecture and engineering.

The starting point for Stefano was to understand what is art. It is that part of man’s work, designed, developed and implemented without any immediate purpose except to find us all in a better environment through the ideal of beauty.

The canons of beauty, however, vary continuously. From the harmony sought in classical Greek sculpture to the exasperation of the early expressionists. To be more relevant, art always corresponds to a kind of private reflection. It is personal and always different for each person, in search of the truth hidden behind the appearance of things. So how do art and competitiveness blend?

We know that our ‘art’ cities have an advantage in terms of attraction for visitors. But what to do for new projects? Should ancient art and modern art be treated the same way?

Yes, ancient art and modern art should be treated in the same way as well as contemporary art, but it should be clear what is meant by “treat”. If we mean “to read” we must maintain the separate identity of the three ages defined chronologically, using tools of interpretation different for the different ages.

The age of modern art arrives for some with the historical avant-garde, Duchamp, Picasso at the “Demoiselles d’Avignon”, 1907. Yet, for others it arrives with the Neoclassicism of David. However, in reality “modern” art should be traced back at least to the Chapel of Giotto Scrovegni in Padua, or of the Basilica of San Francesco (we’re in the early 1300s). This was when nature, history and humanity felt the need to integrate, as then triumphantly happened in the Renaissance. It follows that to read we must take into account all the social, cultural and material, and must have a purpose different each time.

For Stefano Flammini art in Italy, more than elsewhere, has always sought an appropriate integration in the context of architectural and urban character, always avoiding being perceived as a simple overlay. Albeit with ups and downs at different times, art is not a mere decorative element but has its own character of “necessity” in the project and its implementation.

In this context, the creativity of Italian companies has its roots in art and demonstrates a capacity, undisputed worldwide, to “build the beautiful”. This capability is still felt and perceived by Italian businesses where art and competitiveness are linked for Italian firms in the world. Nevertheless, when an Italian firm (such as in the 1960’s when the Isa group from Veneto, ventured to Australia to compete for the façade of the Sydney Opera House) takes its first steps abroad they may feel dismay, competing against the giants of the international markets.

Stefano reminds us of the analogy of David and Goliath. The depiction of David, the hero who Michelangelo transformed into the ideal of male beauty cannot fail to inspire., While simultaneously, poor Goliath so huge and powerful is unsuccessful in the face of such beauty and intelligence – art and competitiveness. This is the Italian dream.