The Fascinating Wooden World of Livio De Marchi

Venetian artist Livio De Marchi is like a real-life Gepetto. Except, he doesn’t need a fairy god mother for his works to come alive. De Marchi’s works of art are so life-like, sometimes it’s hard to tell they’re made of wood.

The tools that De Marchi works with are fairly simple – a hundred varieties of chisel dated back to 1964, an old hammer and a steady hand – but the stuff he produces is nothing short of spectacular. A wooden replica of a leather jacket he made looks so real, you’d actually reach out to try it on if you didn’t know better. The only distinguishing factor between real and wood is that he doesn’t paint any of his creations, because he believes that the grain and knots of the plain wood are very intriguing. He spends hours at his workbench every single day, producing masterpiece after masterpiece.

De Marchi discovered his passion for carving pretty early in life. As a child he was interested in ornamental carving and practiced in a craftsman’s workshop. He’d always been good at molding materials and creating detailed sculptures. He studied art and drawing at the “Accademia di Belle Arti”, and began work with marble. Soon he shifted to bronze, before finally settling on wood as his preferred medium, for its versatility. He soon opened his own studio. One of the most notable works of De Marchi is the House of Books that he built in 1990, in Tambre D’Alpago, Italy. His ultimate goal is to create 10 such structures around the world, of which this was the first. And it got him instant fame and popularity. Literally everything inside and outside the house is made of wood – right from the bookshelves to the books in the shelves. The tables, plates, cutlery, table cloths, couches and couch cushions, the clothes in the wardrobe and women’s lingerie hanging on the clothesline are all wooden. Even the lampshades and chandeliers! The house is meant to depict a book-lover’s dream.

De Marchi loves creating objects of fantasy and another noteworthy creation is “A Dream in Venice”. Made in 1994, it is a huge wooden pumpkin carriage pulled by four wooden horses, much like Cinderella’s. But this one glides along the waters of Venetian canals. It’s not the only one, his array of floating sculptures include replicas of famous old cars, like the Mercedes Seagull he created in 1997 and the Volkswagen Beetle in 1999. His depictions of a piano covered in cloth, a woman’s handbag and umbrella, and a bubble-blower with soap bubbles rendered in glass are quite amazing. He’s really good at glass work too, as you can make out from a picture of glass balloons he’s holding – they look very realistic. De Marchi’s works have been showcased in art shows at several major cities including London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Zurich, Milan and Florence. Several art magazines such as Vogue, Interior Design, Decoration and Madame Figaro have featured his story as well.

I’m quite in love with De Marchi’s “basket of teddy bears” sculpture; it’s definitely one of the cutest things I’ve seen in a while. You can check out all of his work on his official website.



Photos via Craftsmanship Museum

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