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Armando Testa. Crazy for ideas

Due to his ability to do commercial promotion with intelligence, taste, and irony – an element that has made him truly unmistakable – Armando Testa’s advertising is recognisable, effective but above all aesthetically beautiful. A profession born in the Vigliardi Paravia typographic school in Turin, where the abstract painter Ezio D’Errico introduced him to contemporary art, which the young and curious Armando would always look at with great interest, for its iconic and immediate ability to convey the communicative message.

From 1946, he worked for important houses such as Martini & Rossi, Carpano, Borsalino and Pirelli, thus establishing himself as an illustrator for publishing for a creatively original style and setting up a small graphics studio. In 1956, the Testa agency was founded, dedicated not only to graphic design but also to television advertising.

Some of the companies using Testa’s agency soon became industry leaders: Lavazza, Sasso, Carpano, Simmenthal, Lines. In 1958 Testa won the national competition for the official poster of the 1960 Rome Olympics. Then, between the 1950s and 1970s, filmed images and animations were created for television that have remained in the history of advertising, linked to slogans that have entered common language: the graphic play between black/white and positive/negative for the digestive Antonetto (1960); the perfect geometries of the sphere suspended on the half sphere for the aperitif Punt e Mes, which in Piedmontese dialect means ‘a point and a half’ (1960); the conical puppets of Caballero and Carmencita for Lavazza’s Paulista coffee (1960); Pippo the blue hippo for Lines nappies (1964); the spherical inhabitants of planet Papalla for Philco (1969).

Today Armando Testa is the largest Italian communication group in the world while remaining creatively countercultural due to its innate ability to break the mould with surprising and innovative passion that makes an Armando Testa object unique and universal.

The web-only auction of Vintage Posters, online until 29 November 2022, features five lots created by Armando Testa that epitomise his explosive and multifaceted creativity: the celestial rubber puppet of the Ippopotamo Pippo from 1966, branded Lines and in excellent condition (lot 6, estimate 100-200 euro); the silkscreen print on wood depicting The Hippopotamus in Love, published in Turin by Silk-Graf (lot 7, condition A, estimate 350-750 euro), and the 1989 silkscreen print with the augural title Se son rose, Fioriranno! , which features a splendid red rose supported by a lively, moving foot (lot 20, A condition, estimate Euro 300-600). Elegant and dry is the 1962 serigraph of Facis Bernina, published in Milan by Arti Grafiche dei Fratelli Pirovano (lot 30, A condition, estimated value Euro 400-800), the canvas lithographed poster entitled I Vermuth Re dal 1786, Carpano, Punto e Mes printed in the shadow of the Mole by Silk-Graf (B condition, estimate 1,200-2,000 euro) is chromatically exciting.