Graphic autobiography is a choc-a-bloc assemblage of Italo Lupi’s work as a designer and art director with about 1000 illustrations over 370 pages. True to its title, the book includes work by other designers and illustrators who have collaborated with him or have influenced him, plus various comments and articles (in dual Italian and English texts) by Lupi and other writers who have intermingled with his illustrious career over more than four decades.
Lupi (born in 1934) gives a brief glimpse of his boyhood spent as a war evacuee with his family (who gave refuge to persecuted Jews) in a Piedmont village nestled among vine-clad hills.
His professional life unfurled in Milan – a city with a strong presence in the book. However Lupi has a cosmopolitan outlook, as shown by images such as Heath Robinson drawings, fragments of Rip Kirby, Ben Shahn, Saul Steinberg, Mickey Mouse, Playboy, Paul Rand, and a portrait of his friend Alan Fletcher accompanied by Lupi’s review of Fletcher’s The art of looking sideways. He makes no bones of being an Anglophile (with a house in Kew near London) but he also shows work by Italian illustrators such as Guido Crepax, Paolo Guidotti and Giovanni Mulazzani.
However, it is Lupi’s own work that grabs attention and takes pride of place in the book. He was art director of Domus (founded in 1928 by Giò Ponti) and later editor and art director of Abitare – two magazines concerned with architecture and design in the broadest sense of the word. He shows some surprising and fresh design ideas for these magazines. His graphic work for the logo and corporate identity of the Triennale di Milano is illustrated in numerous pages: with tongue-in-cheek elegance, Lupi reprints positive and highly critical responses to this commission.