Gio Ponti: un disegno è un idea

By Niall Hobhouse

Giò Ponti (1981–1979), Un disegno e un idea, c.1930–1940. Pen and ink on thin laid paper, 278 × 217 mm. DMC 2835.

Signora Onvoloni, here is a drawing that might find a place in your cabinet of ideas: ‘a drawing is an idea’

– Gio Ponti, translated by Guido Beltramini [1]

All seems simple enough on the face of it, and of course one smiles, just as Gio hoped we might. But here, face and mask, the lines and words, have this in common: they are each neither different, nor the same.

One must ask whether Ponti’s text refers not just to what he has drawn but (and perhaps, equally) to the idea it expressed. The sheet of paper with its various marks then becomes something more than the inert exhibit for the Signora’s ideario. It is a proof – made with the elegance of a mathematician or a linguistic philosopher – that our worthy impulse to disentangle the message from the medium puts meaning itself into play.


  1. Signora Onvoloni, questo e un disegno de mettere in ideario con sotto: “un disegno è un idea”‘.