Flying high with the Italian Aviation poster collection

Story by Jack Foley

Planespotting: Italian Aviation Posters 1910 - 1943; Until April 28, 2002

A NEW exhibition at the Estorick Collection in Canonbury Square, London, chronicles the golden age of Italian aviation through 44 posters of immense artistic and historical interest, on loan from the Massimo & Sonia Cirulli Archive, of New York.

One of the earliest and most effective means of mass communication, the poster was the perfect medium through which to stimulate public interest in the aeronautical endeavours and achievements of the day.

Aviation began to develop in Italy around 1910 and during the First World War the daring exploits of pilots such as Francesco Baracca and the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio were to capture the popular imagination.

Following Mussolini's rise to power in 1922, the inter-war years witnessed a tremendous expansion of both military and civil aviation, as well as a number of spectacular aeronautical feats, including Italo Balbo's legendary transatlantic flights of the 1930s, when he led squadrons of seaplanes, flying in formation, to Brazil and the United States.

However, the events of World War II shattered the dream of Italian aeroplanes dominating the skies, decimating the aeronautics industry and leading to the deaths of many of the great figures of Italian aviation.

Planespotting presents an outstanding selection of works by such artists and illustrators as Mario Sironi, Umberto Di Lazzaro, Adolfo Wildt, Alberto Mastroianni and Luigi Martinati, who captured the drama of flight and documented the unfolding saga of Italian aviation in images of exceptional style and power.

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1 2AN (main entrance Canonbury Road). Tel: 020 7704 9522

Admission: £3.50 (£2.50 concessions) Groups of more than 10 are asked to book in advance.

Underground: (Victoria Line) & North London Line: Highbury & Islington (3 mins); Essex Road Network SE (5 mins).
Buses: 271 to door; 4,19,30, 43 to Upper Street/Canonbury Lane 38,56,171a to Essex & Canonbury Roads.