Venice at 6am is a place where the pigeons outnumber tourists on the streets — except today, perhaps. We were up early for a trip to Mantua, which is two hours by car from Venice. Although best known for its sprawling complex called the Palazzo Ducale, where Renaissance master Andrea Mantegna’s frescoes are on view, the SVA group made the journey for an exclusive workshop at Corraini, the publishing house run by Maurizio and Marzia Corraini with their son Pietro Corraini. [http://www.corraini.com/] For nearly four decades the Corrainis have worked with legendary artists like Bruno Munari and other designers, illustrators and architects on books that have been called “impossible” to produce. Fortunately for readers everywhere, this has rarely been the case. “We are beloved and hated by printers,” said Marzia.
After leading the group through the gallery, studio and archives, Pietro gave a brief lecture about the importance of art taking viewers “inside the work,” paraphrasing Munari’s observation that “You don’t read the book, you don’t see the book, you play the book.” Showing Munari’s 1956 classic children’s book Nella buia notte
[http://www.corraini.com/scheda_libro.php?id=321&lang=eng], in which nighttime city scenes are astutely printed on black paper in blue ink, Pietro then challenged the students to create a 16-page book of their own illustrating a journey of some kind. After three hours of intensive designing, printing, trimming, punching, stapling and stitching, they presented their books to the Corrainis. “Bravi!” said Marzia, and her smile made any translation unnecessary.