For those of you following the Viareggio Carnevale this month, you may have seen the iconic ‘clown’ dressed in the red and white costume, affectionately known as Burlamacco. As well as being the Carnival mascot, he is also the town mascot for Viareggio and you can admire a permanent statue of him on the Lungomare promenade.
Burlamacco has a very interesting history starting from when he was created in 1931 by famous futurist painter, graphic artist and designer, Uberto Bonetti. Bonetti, himself from Viareggio entered and won the local competition to design the mascot for the carnival. He chose the red and white of the outfit from the traditional colours of the umbrellas on the beaches of Viareggio and the name Burlamacco came 8 years later, derived from the town’s Burlamacca river. To this day Burlamacco remains a feature of the carnival.
Uberto Bonetti went on to design many of the Carnival’s most beautiful posters which you can see in the photos below.
Uberto Bonetti also became very well known for his series of aerial works during the 1930’s called the ‘Aeroviste d’Italia’ which depict many Italian territories. I’ve included a few of my favourite images below.
Over the years, Uberto Bonetti became known for his caricatures of many famous personalities that were published in some of the most important newspapers of Italy.
He studied architecture in Cararra and during his career also worked in the areas of fashion and sculpture.
In the 70’s Bonetti returned to his first love, the difficult technique of watercolours of which he became un undisputed master. He exhibited with great success in Milan, Florence, Pistoia and naturally Viareggio.
His last great exhibition was organised by the ‘Commune, the Fondazione Carnevale and the Premio Letterario. Held in Palazzo Paolina in Viareggio in 1992 where his 70 years of work were celebrated, it was to be his last homage before his sad passing in 1993.
Special thanks to the Uberto Bonetti museum for letting me share these images here and in the February issue of This Tuscan Life. You can see more examples of his work at his website. www.ubertobonetti.com