Piero Gherardi - Writer

Art Director. Nationality: Italian. Born: Poppi, Arezzo, 20 November 1909. Education: Mainly self-taught in art and architecture. Career: Practicing architect in the 1930s; then set decorator and art director after 1945 (also designed costumes); stage designer in Italy and Britain. Awards: Academy Award for La dolce vita , 1961, , 1963. Died: In Rome, 8 June 1971.

Films as Art Director:


Daniele Cortis (Soldati)


Amanti senza amore (Franciolini)


Senza pietà ( Without Pity ) (Lattuada); Proibito rubare ( Guaglio ) (Comencini); Fuga in Francia (Soldati)


Campane a martello ( Children of Change ) (Zampa); Napoli milionaria (de Filippo) (co)


Cinema d'altri tempi (Steno) (+ costumes); Her Favourite Husband ( The Taming of Dorothy ) (Soldati); Romanzo d'amore ( Toselli ) (Coletti); Camicie rosse (Alessandrini)


Sensualità (Fracassi)


Anni facili ( Easy Years ) (Zampa)


Proibito (Monicelli) (+ costumes)


Le notti di Cabiria ( Nights of Cabiria ) (Fellini)


Padri e figli . . . ( Fathers and Sons ) (Monicelli); La grande strada azzurra (Pontecorvo) (co); Il medico e lo stregone (Monicelli) (+ costumes)


I soliti ignoti ( Big Deal on Madonna Street ) (Monicelli) (+ costumes)


La dolce vita (Fellini); Kapò (Pontecorvo); Risate di gioia ( The Passionate Thief ) (Monicelli) (co); Sotto dieci bandiere ( Under Ten Flats ) (Coletti); Crimen (Camerini)


Il carabiniere a cavallo (Lizzani); Il re di Poggioreala (Coletti)


"Renzo e Luciana" ep. of Boccaccio '70 (Monicelli)


Otto e mezzo ( ) (Fellini) (+ costumes); La ragazza di Bube ( Bebo's Girl ) (Comencini)


"Peccato nel Pomeriggio" ep. of Alta infedeltà ( High Infidelity ) (Petri); "Fatabene fratelli" ep. of Tre notti d'amore ( Three Nights of Love ) (Comencini) (+ costumes)


Giulietta degli spiriti ( Juliet of the Spirits ) (Fellini) (+ costumes); Madamigella di Maupin (Bolognini); L'armata Brancaleone (Monicelli) (+ costumes)


"Fata Armenia" ep. of Le fate ( The Queens ) (Monicelli)


The Appointment (Lumet) (+ costumes); Queimada! ( Burn! ) (Pontecorvo) (+ costumes); Infanzia, vocatione, e prime esperienza di Giacomo Casanova, veneziano (Comencini) (+ costumes)

Other Films:


Notte di tempestà (Franciolini) (set decorator)


Eugenia Grandet (Soldati) (set decorator)


Iolanda la figlia del corsaro nero (Soldati) (set decorator)


War and Peace (K. Vidor) (set decorator)


Il gobbo ( The Hunchback of Rome ) (Lizzani) (costumes)


Violenza segreta (Moser) (costumes)


"La telefonata" and "Il trattato di eugenetica" eps. of Le bambole ( The Dolls ) (Risi and Comencini) (costumes)


Se tutte le donne del mondo . . . ( Operazione Paradiso ; Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die ) (Levin and Maiuri) (co-costumes)


Diabolik ( Danger: Diabolik ) (Bava) (co-costumes)


Le avventure di Pinocchio (Comencini) (costumes)


By GHERARDI: article—

Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1969–70.

On GHERARDI: film—

Piero Gherardi , 1967.

* * *

Piero Gherardi collaborated with Federico Fellini on his major films of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The styles of these films show an infusion of new artistic qualities into the established practices of neorealist films of the late 1940s. In La dolce vita , 8½, and Juliet of the Spirits , there still was the use of some actual locations and some nonprofessional actors, characteristics of the neorealist movement. But Gherardi and Fellini brought certain surrealistic images into their films, such as the opening of La dolce vita , in which a statue of Christ with outstretched arms is suspended from a helicopter. Though such a situation is plausible the image is striking and memorable because it juxtaposes familiar objects with an unusual context.

The sets and costumes of 8½ and Juliet of the Spirits established the dreamlike quality of the films. The spa in 8½ is not a real location but a set, modeled not on an existing place but on the memories of one Gherardi had visited as a child. Similarly, the train station is a memory—all the viewer sees are a locomotive, a platform, and some steam. In Juliet of the Spirits the conservative heroine's surroundings are mostly white, while the interiors of the house of her liberated friend Suzy are red, yellow, and violet. Juliet's house, an environment of purity, is contrasted to Suzy's, which has the atmosphere of circus and brothel. Gherardi considered a costume as more than a mere covering for a character; it reveals that character and defines the personality. Likewise, his sets did more than give documentary information about a place. Gherardi often mixed the ordinary with the simplified or the surrealistic. In so doing, he emphasized the artificial quality of films and helped to focus attention on characters and situations whose components were as complex as the visual elements.

—Floyd W. Martin

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