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Museo dell'intreccio mediterraneo di Castelsardo

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Eugenio Tavolara and basketmaking

Around 1950 the artist Eugenio Tavolara, from Sassari, gave a new impetus to craft and the folk art of basketmaking in Sardinia. Tavolara was, in fact, a close supporter of the island culture, of a careful promotion of these traditional art forms and their proud exposition to the world. Incentivated by this, Tavolara, together with the architect Ubaldo Badas from Cagliari, inaugurated the first exhibition in the Padiglione per l'artigianato (Crafts pavilion) in Sassari in 1956, and in 1957 set up the Istituto Sardo Organizzazione Lavoro Artigiano (I.S.O.L.A.) Sardinian Institute for the Organization of Crafts, which was based in Sassari in the recently inaugurated building .

Thanks to I.S.O.L.A . Tavolara was able to revitalize traditional Sardinian artforms especially in the areas of basketmaking, weaving and intaglio, bringing them into line with international tastes, at that time focused on rediscovering Mediterranean values, as simple as they were sophisticated. I.S.O.L.A . was the first regional body aimed at enhancing Sardinian handicraft not just as a mere product of Sardinian manufacture but as an emblematic art form representing the whole of Sardinia, tasteful design propositions to make known beyond the territorial boundaries. An initiative that was also a result of the tourist boom in Sardinia, especially in the Costa Smeralda, and the resulting wave of construction of villas and hotels that had to be fitted out and furnished.

With Tavolara the artifacts decorations were revitalized (brighter colors and forms taken from the island's goldsmithing art were introduced) and their manufacture became design. Tavolara also gave new artistic importance to the basketmakers of Sardinia and in particular the basketmaking cooperatives of Castelsardo, which conscientiously followed his example promoting the artifacts of their own production.

In 1963, with the death of Tavolara, I.S.O.L.A. adopted new objectives, aimed more at marketing than at the aesthetic revitalization of the artistic products. Still, the legacy of this artist from Sassari continues to survive in the work of many Sardinian artisans and designers, committed as he was to create a balance between modernity and tradition.

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