i only recently discovered gemma taccogna. i am head over heals in love with the style of papier mache that she is best know for and totally awestruck that this one very talented woman really set the pace for the look of papier mache in the 1960s. her work has made a couple of appearances in my blog and thru a comment i was made aware of her name and began to do some research on her.
i was very sad to hear that she passed away the other day. she lived in palos verdes, california and up until very recently had been teaching art classes. born in italy, gemma was an artist from a very young age. in the late 40s and early 50s she found her first big success selling her creations to nina ricci and schiaparelli. hat desinger mr. john used gemma's heads to display his hats in his new york boutique. take a close look at the photo in my post about a mc call's fashion shoot at serendipity 3 and you'll see one of gemma's heads and a cat.
in 1954 she moved to mexico with her husband. there she started a papier mache studio and went on to create amazing work that was collected by peggy guggenheim and sold to stores such as neiman marcus. in 1966 after seeing her work copied and mass produced gemma closed her shop. she moved back to the united states and continued to work and expanded into tiles and jewelry. mary tyler moore and other hollywood celebrities commissioned work from her.
to this day papier mache artists marvel at how smooth (just like porcelain) gemma was able to make her pieces-which is no easy feat. i am so totally inspired by gemma and so proud to have one of her heads in my collection.
(image from "papier-mache artistry" by dona z. meilach, 1971)