If, for at least three centuries, women’s stockings have been assured a firm conceptual image, and have had a permanent and subtle erotic appeal, how do we consider the young and modern men’s socks?
Stockings enhance legs and ankles, while socks relieve feet: two anatomical parts which are so close to each other, and yet so distant in their imagery potential. While the first excel in the art of winking, the latter, in their lack of ambiguity and inspiration of images and dreams, have won a straightforward and virile right to irony: they sometimes dare, unashamed, call themselves shoe liners. Men’s socks have walked their own, long way.
Socks, primarily the Italian ones, deserve three important considerations. Their democratic and transversal diffusion has characterized the past century: they are indiscriminately worn all over the world, with rare exceptions on hot summer days, while World War I’s rags are but a shady memory in old school book pages.
Socks are a firm symbol of innermost comfort, but cannot be described as intimate garments: they love being on show, and are a clear sign of the personal taste of whoever wears them.
Finally they are a fundamental feature of a purely Italian taste, since only Italians wear knee-high socks; these deeply-aware supporters can therefore feel a sense of sweet superiority over the rest of mankind, banal wearers of the scorned sneaker liners.
There is nowadays an entire list of ethical elements, grown around the subtle myth of men’s socks, which have turned these into aesthetical stimuli for the artistic world.
The Ciocca Factory’s painting collection, started ten years ago out of pure enthusiasm, has soon become a peculiar collection, and partly by chance, partly thanks to a stroke of luck, today it clearly expresses its first steps’ itinerary.
It is easy to realize that the various works of art were not found on the market: the paintings’ theme is too particular and somehow too personal. Each of these works was commissioned to a different artist.
How amusing it must have been meeting up with elegant and funny artists such as Aldo Mondino, the well-rounded “creative” creator, or well-known master painters like Emilio Tadin, writer and maitre à penser; I am thinking of Mario Schifano, the perturbing superstar of Rome’s Piazza del Popolo group of artists, whose painting was the first bought in 1991. But I am also fascinated by Ugo Nespolo, the artist who conquered everybody’s mind with his poster on Azzurra, the Italian sailing boat competing in the America’s Cup. The consideration for young talents such as Stefano Arienti and Marco Lodola arouses my curiosity, and I share the collectors’ fondness for Folon’s delicate and mysterious poetical works, the artist whose blue flames of gas advertisments are known all over. I appreciate that the collection should include works by two fundamental representatives of Arte Povera: Pistoletto, who makes viewers see themselves when they look at his mirror-paintings, and Gilardi, the funny anarchist and health professional, as well as the rubber-microcosm sculptor who, after gaining international fame, went back to his hospital job. The most eccentric artist of all could not be left out of this collection, Achille Cavellini from Brescia, the neo dada, far too much ahead of his time to be understood even today that he has disappeared. The collection includes many other excellent artists, such as Mazzucconi, Faita, Baroni, Skoglund.
My congratulations should go to whoever chose the paintings, also because his choice was made in the sphere of an Italian visual culture which is not second to any other, just like the well-known Italian knee-high socks.