Gillo Dorfles behind the latest illy Art Collection

Rome, 26 November 2015illycaffè is sponsor of the one-man show “Gillo Dorfles. Essere nel tempo”, the first major retrospective to celebrate Dorfles’ art and writing. The exhibition, presented this morning at the MACRO Museum in Rome, will be open to the public between 27 November 2015 and 13 March 2016.

For the occasion, Gillo Dorfles, artist as well as art critic, intellectual, art sociologist and aesthetics academic, designed the new illy Art Collection.

Trieste-born artist drew inspiration from several of his decorative designs for fabric, made on paper between 1937 and 1940
using the egg oil tempera emulsion technique – one used long ago by the great fifteenth-century masters. For Dorfles, they served as a launchpad for playful experimentation with the repetition of a number of graphic elements and a reinterpretation of archetypical signs.
In his illy Art Collection, the form/colours of Dorfles’ imaginative universe, which continue to serve as the hallmark of his poetics, transform the coffee break into a complete aesthetic experience, restoring just the right balance to our existential place in this world.

This collaboration between the artist and illycaffè has developed out of a deep-rooted sharing of values and visions. This proximity goes beyond sharing the same hometown of Trieste; it is, above all, a matter of sharing the same Mitteleuropean cultural horizons. Gillo Dorfles has been involved with emerging forms of expression and has focused his farsighted gaze on the future present of the Arts the same way that illy has always courageously supported emerging talent, embracing expressions of contemporary art the same way it embraces its local area.

Beauty exists today and beauty will exist always,” says Gillo Dorfles apropos of the ongoing evolution of art. “Unless the world becomes so ‘brutish’ that it transforms men into ‘brutes’.”

“We have so much in common with Gillo Dorfles: the same hometown, the same love of art and design, and a similar way of looking to the future with an objective if dream-driven eye,”
says Andrea Illy, illycaffè Chairman and CEO. “This explains why we are so pleased to be part of the “Gillo Dorfles. Essere nel tempo” exhibition. We could not miss this opportunity to ask him to author an illy Art Collection, our collection of coffee cups which, over the last twenty years, has attracted the leading lights of contemporary art.”

The collection will have its world premiere at the preview of the “Gillo Dorfles. Essere nel tempo” one-man show at the MACRO Museum in Rome. The cups go on public sale in February 2016 at illy sales outlets and the website.

illy Art Collection
The illy Art Collection, a series of coffee cups by artists that the Trieste-based company has produced since 1992, is the clearest expression of the illycaffé connection to contemporary art. Some of the most prominent contemporary masters on the international art scene, along with emerging young talents, have transformed the everyday coffee cup – in this case the white porcelain lily cup introduced by the architect and designer Matteo Thun – into a cult object. From Michelangelo Pistoletto to Marina Abramović, Anish Kapoor to Daniel Buren, Robert Rauschenberg to Jeff Koons, Jan Fabre to James Rosenquist, Jannis Kounellis to Julian Schnabel, Louise Bourgeois to William Kentridge, more than 70 contemporary artists so far have contributed designs for the collection and formed close collaborative relationships with illy that develop along with their own artistic and cultural projects. The illy Art Collection, signed, limited and numbered, is on sale all over the world, in cafés, stores that distribute illy products and at Once they sell out, the items are not reproduced.

illycaffè was founded in Trieste in 1933; the company manufactures and markets a unique blend of 100% Arabica espresso coffee and is the leading brand in top quality coffee. illycaffè has been an official partner of Expo 2015, creating and managing the content, exhibits and events centred on coffee in the common area of the Expo Coffee Cluster. Almost 7 million cups of illy coffee are consumed daily throughout the world. illy coffee is sold in more than 140 countries and is served in over 100,000 of the world’s finest restaurants and cafés. The monobrand illy shops are about 230 in 43 Countries. The company also set up and runs the Coffee University with a view to fostering and spreading the culture of coffee; this centre of excellence provides comprehensive academic and hands-on training for coffee growers, baristas and fans covering every aspect of the product. The company has approximately 1,084 people on its global payroll, and in 2014 posted consolidated revenues of €391 million. illy purchases green coffee beans directly from growers of the highest quality Arabica, based on partnerships underpinned by the principles of sustainable development. Out of its Trieste headquarters the company encourages long-term partnerships with the world’s best growers in Brazil, Central America, India and Africa, sharing know-how and technology and paying higher than market compensation.