The Treachery of Images, Rene’ Magritte
The birth of the "Pesaro" school was something of a renaissance for Italian pipe design, born, so the story goes, out of reaction to the rise of the Danish pipe during the 1960s, and the contrasting decline of attention to the Italian tradition. And just as with the works of the historical Renaissance period, that birth was affected by the meeting of well-heeled, established patrons with a skilled and dedicated artisan. More specifically, when a group of successful, patriotically-minded Italian pipemen, represented by one Terenzio Cecchini, found a younger countryman, student of fine arts, and autodidactic pipemaker all rolled into one, in the form of Giancarlo Guidi.
From this meeting was born Mastro de Paja, and from Mastro de Paja Giancarlo both developed and honed his own pipemaking skills and approach to design, and in turn helped shape those of the numerous Italian artisans whom he worked with. From here what we now call the Pesaro style would spread, as these various artisans set out independently to create such marques of their own as L'Anatra, Il Ceppo, and Don Carlos. And today Giancarlo himself is of course best known by the unmistakable briars of his own workshop - Ser Jacopo.
Just as the boy is said to be the father of the man, the nature of the seed from which the Pesaro school has grown is evident to this day in the fruits it bears - Giancarlo's original background was in art, and artful flourish, posture, and form remains the very essence of the "Pesaro look". And you'd be hard-pressed to find somewhere where this was more self-evident than in Ser Jacopo's own Picta lines, wherein Giancarlo has interpreted the designs of pipes found the artworks of some of his favorite masters.
The Picta series-of-series is an expansive and still-expanding project, to this date covering designs from the works of Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Rene' Magritte, and, most recently, Joan Miro. And it has no doubt been a challenging, albeit also satisfying, one as well. After all, some of these works, Magritte's in particular, contain some of the most undoubtedly iconic images of a pipe. As much as the aforementioned's Treachery of Images may rebuke us, when we see it we think, "That is what a pipe should look like." Then there's also the challenge of wrestling with some of the master artist's own styles.
As you can see, they range from the clearly rendered:
Head of a Peasant with Pipe, Vincent Van Gogh
...to the abstractly obscured:
Catalan Peasant with a Guitar, Joan Miro
But no matter the challenges created by the whims of those artist-artisans who came before him, Giancarlo has nonetheless seen to it that interpretations pleasing to the pipeman are produced:
Rene’ Magritte may indeed have never made an actual pipe, but, fortunately for us, Giancarlo Guidi certainly does.
Eric Squires: Copywriter