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James Clough: Signs / 1

We are reposting all the articles written by James Clough for la Repubblica / Robinson, extending his 20-year research published in the volume Signs of Italy.

Torrefazione Caffè

To better illustrate the letters, let us show only part of the sign of this historic Modenese store. The word “Coffee” is enough to appreciate the cheerful, eye-catching gait of that cursive, which remains the same even for the missing word, ” Torrefazione.” The teaching of handwriting is stagnant in schools today, and fewer and fewer young people are able to write well. No one except calligraphers – a tribe gathering more and more followers of all ages – would ever be able to exhibit cursive with a swaying rhythm like this. Although these letters are drawn and not written, they come across as absolutely spontaneous in gesture and freshness. They are subtle and threadlike, but their delicacy is amply reinforced by the black thread that surrounds them and, even more, by the singular choice of deep red shadows.

Insegna a Modena: "Caffè"
Credit: Bunker

The owner, Mrs. Alessandra Pedrazzi, relates that the store was opened in 1904 and that her father bought it in 1968. The sign dates back to the mid-1950s and, like at least two others that still exist in the Modena area, is signed Vetreria Marisaldi Modena.

Location: Modena
Address: Via Albinelli 9
Technique: painting on glass
Writing: cursive with hairline and shadow
Year: around 1955

Originally published by Robinson («la Repubblica») on May 15, 2017.
Courtesy of James Clough.