Suspended in the air, dynamic but still, concentrically plunges Ernesto Michahelles’ diver. The sculpture, in patinated plaster, currently exposed at Palazzo Strozzi for the exhibition on the Thirties, is the draft for a bronze casting to be displayed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. However, the IOC asked the artist to create a smaller sculpture, 160 cm instead of the almost 3 meters of this original project, and later Thayaht himself could not afford to pay for the metal fusion.
The diver’s balance and the effort are brilliantly reproduced in the work, anchored on a single pin below the hands. The metal circles are independently set as a base, and each time the sculpture is mounted, its needs to find its own balance again, its own perfect alignment.
Linear artist with eclectic skills, Thayaht is a particular character in the art world. Sculptor, painter, goldsmith and fashion designer , Thayaht, was born in Florence in 1893. He grew up in his grandfather’s house at Poggio Imperiale, and his years in Paris, designed clothes for the atelier of Madeleine Vionnet, influencing fashion in the French capital. He worked for the atelier in the Rue de Rivoli between 1918 and 1925.
In 1920, along with his brother RAM (Ruggero Alfredo Michahelles), Thayaht invents the ‘Overall’, launched through ‘La Nazione’, Florence’s newspaper. The ‘overall’ is a T-shaped garment, universally practical, that was produced by several fashion houses. Resistant models were developed for racing and industrial work.
From 1929 Thayaht publishes his drawings in “Moda”, the official magazine of the National Fascist Federation of Clothing Industry and in the same year, in May, he was presented by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti to Primo Conti. Marinetti himself, impressed by some of his works, including the leader’s portrait in steely iron “Dux”, introduces him to Mussolini. Thayaht gives his sculpture to the Duce.
He participates to Barcelona’s International Exposition in 1930, winning the gold medal for his “thayahttite” creation, an aluminum alloy. He is invited all throught the thirties to Venice’s Art Biennale and particpates to a jewelry exhibit with silver and steel jewels. He writes a book on how to transform menswear and is fascinated with Paul Gauguin’s ability in using colour.
From 1944, Thayaht is interested in ufology and establishes a space observation center in his summer residence, a villa in Versilia he bought in 1923, in Marina di Pietrasanta, called “The Casa Gialla”. That’s where he dies on April 29, 1959.
The exhibition ‘Anni 30’ – The Thirties in Palazzo Strozzi, open from September 22 to January 27, 2013, allows to rediscover artists and extraordinary talents like Tahyaht, the Irregular Futurist, aka Ernesto Michahelles, helping to revive and renew Firenze’s cultural creativity.