The fascination of the masks

Since ancient times, masks have been used in many theatrical traditions, from the Japanese to the classical theater. In ancient Greece, for example, masks had the function of representing the character and making his emotions recognizable. The consecration of the mask in the European theater takes place thanks to the diffusion of the Commedia dell’Arte in the sixteenth century.

In addition to some practical functions, the mask in the theatrical field brings to the stage the absurdity of numerous situations in human life and a constant sense of provocation and mystery.

Today, when one hears the term “mask”, one immediately thinks of the Venice Carnival whose masks are recognized and appreciated all over the world. The history of the Venetian Carnival is very long, the first testimonies date back to 1094 and refer to public entertainment organized in the days preceding Lent. However, the first official document date back from 1296 when the Carnival becomes an official public holiday.

The Carnival then became a symbol of unbridled fun and irresponsibility that lived its golden moment in the Serenissima age in the eighteenth century. For several days each year, any desire became feasible, neither men nor the law could oppose it. Precisely this atmosphere of transgression and lightheartedness has created the endless suggestions related to the Carnival, making its masks known throughout the world.

The raw material that gives life to the masks created inside La Fucina Dei Miracoli is papier-mâché, worked through a production technique that combines tradition and innovation.

Papier-mâché is made from paper, which is worked with water, crushed in a mortar and molded through a copper mold. Once dry and stretched, the mask acquires a smooth surface, which will then be decorated by hand.

Lace, pearls and Swarovski embellish the half-masks of the Masquerade Ball collection, created to hide and show at the same time. The San Marco collection brings together all the most eccentric creations in which precious fabrics, pierced metals and trimmings create imaginative masks and daring characters. The ancient Venetian folk tradition comes to life thanks to the Tarot collection in which decorations in gold leaf recall the baroque taste of the seventeenth-century Serenissima.

The charm and the mystery of the masks has also influenced cinema, fashion and all arts. Like Kubrick’s last work, Eyes wide shut, in which the mask is the means through which the truth is revealed. Hiding one’s identity by concealing his face is the only way to show one’s nature.

The mask represents the real essence of man, disguised in everyday life and denied by common morality.

This concept is also found in the lives and stories of most superheroes: their action out of the ordinary would not be understood by society and therefore they must hide their true identity. Even the painter Emil Nolde sees masks as something ancestral and primitive. In fact, in his paintings the mask symbolizes the bond with his animal side, by now, cut off by modern man. The mask is the mirror of a life that the man of the twentieth century has rejected and lost.

Even the fashion world has not been able to renounce the charisma of the mask so much that we find it in the creation of different stylists, such as Rick Owens or Martin Margiela, with opposite meanings and references. For some, the mask is a mystical symbol of search and conquest of primitiveness, for others, is a push towards the future. The mask is often associated with the universe of technology and robots, becoming a device that can protect, hide, decorate or entertain.