The works of Celestino Piatti (1922-2007) are a special source of inspiration for us – we have long been fascinated and enthusiastic about his graphic work. Besides the diversity of his output and the subtle humour, it is above all the deep humanity that speaks to us from his pictures – the John Steinbeck of graphic artists, so to speak. No wonder Piatti has also immortalised “Cannery Row” in his illustrations.
Through the exchange on Instagram, contact was established with the association “Celestino Piatti – Das visuelle Erbe” (Celestino Piatti – The Visual Heritage), which is mainly run by Piatti’s daughter Barbara Piatti and looks after the entire estate and manages the archive located near Basel. When it was possible to register for visits to the archive in October 2020, we didn’t have to think twice and made an appointment.
Then the time had finally come: we borrowed a car and made the long journey from Frankfurt to Basel in super-miserable weather, but it was more than worth it: the reception was more than warm, we were allowed to rummage through all the nooks and crannies for two all-too-short hours and felt like treasure hunters in the cabinet of wonder.
We bought unique prints and afterwards, to our delight, were invited by Barbara Piatti to a nearby restaurant (speciality of the house: “Vermicelles” – a very special dessert made of chestnut puree, looks like grey sphagetti ice cream). While chatting, we also learned a lot about Celestino’s passion for handicrafts – be it locksmithing, woodwork or even screen printing.
In the meantime, the weather had become even worse and the car ride back was correspondingly annoying – but we were heavily inspired and were still halfway through the archive anyway. We would have loved to take home even more treasures, but we’ll do that next time 🙂