There are sellers and there are buyers – but a collector is all of these as they put together collections of work, taking the time and years required to do so. In 2013 & 2014 we wrote posts regarding Fantoni and paid particular attention to his work for Raymor and with a distinct concentration on his cubist figures/statues.
Since that time we have had the pleasure of accepting a piece from a reader who wrote us of their sculpture (of which I will soon impart an amusing story shared), but we have also been approached by a person who has their own impressive and substantial collection of pieces. It is interesting to note that despite our first mention of these statues in 2013, and after numerous hours of research it is still impossible to tell how many of these statues were produced – just impossible. Even highly reputed auction houses can not give even a close ball park as to how many.
It was the correspondence from the person who would eventually allow us to purchase their statue that the reality came that more information is needed out there regarding Raymor and Fantoni in general which includes the works Raymor had performed by Bitossi, Gambone and a sweep of other producers to allow novices to understand more of what they have – or of what they need to know when letting items go.
Marcello Fantoni was a howling success since the 1930’s all the way through to his fairly recent death. At no time was he or his studio ever in a slump and the production of his studio measures in the 10’s of thousands of pieces if not hundreds of thousands. “Studio” work by Fantoni has been jumbled as to the precise definition as often when we say “Studio” we mean the artist directly did the piece and it was not (usually) produced in great numbers. These definitions often used have been clouded. To be understood Fantoni had many staff and seldom you will find a piece ever that was just performed by Fantoni himself but yes, he certainly did a number by himself as these can be marked “Fantoni” “Fantoni Firenze” “Fantoni for Raymor” or a host of others – none of these markings are definitive in telling if he did the piece just by himself or not – and it is not really important either (except when we view the sales of commissioned pieces, which is another matter).
The value of Fantoni’s work will in general always be based on its desirability and the numbers of such produced. Technically, every cubist statue he did is “one of a kind” as no two are identical in construction or glaze, but to call them “one of a kinds” would be misleading. Pricing in the market will be determined by the factors that always bear out – quality, numbers produced and how much demand vs supply there is. There is A LOT of Fantoni out there, but some pieces are hard to get and fetch the best prices. The cubist statues simply put have the issue of demand outweighs supply and even if a hundred were to turn up tomorrow, it is doubtful they would last very long on anyone’s shelf – but this is where the collector comes into play. Because they ARE different in construction and glaze, a collector can decide the value of a piece based on it’s merits and thus the value becomes quite objective – which is the point of collections.
Keep in mind that Bitossi, Gambone and Fantoni along with a great host of other workshops in Europe did an immense amount of production for Raymor – but Gambones consistent ability to turn out pieces in his studio that are very different from other pieces he did means that there is much more of a distinction between Gambones production and Fantoni. Gambone produced much less, and had less of a range, thus the pieces he did in his studio are far more prized than the works he did for Raymor by several levels easily. To put this into perspective however some Fantoni pieces are so sought after that they will unlikely ever come up for sale – not even at auction. Raymor was a juggernaut of production import, it is important to understand the numbers are in the 100’s of thousands of objects.
We obtained the piece in the featured image of this post via a person who ironically received this as a gift in a workshop environment – they had to give away something they thought was ugly. Shocked? You shouldn’t be, aesthetic desires from person to person can be quite different – any trip to some suburbs or locations in any country can tell you that, but even I had to sigh as I heard the tale. Now the new owner did not dislike it but found it hard to appreciate it with their tastes being inclined entirely different. We were happy to take it off their hands because we would appreciate it and they would appreciate what the funds could do for them.
It was around this time we also re-established contact with a gentleman who had been working on his collection for a number of years and who had managed to put together a collection of Fantoni abstract and cubist sculptures that would be the desire of anyone who follows Fantoni. I have seen large Italian ceramic collections before, but this man’s collection was precise; all exempliary examples and quite stunning.