Electa, art and Italy
Electa publishing was founded in Florence in 1945. Italy was war weary, its cultural heritage had been severely damaged by bombing and the nation’s cultural identity was badly in need of an injection of enthusiasm and energy.
Electa published its first volumes under the aegis of the art historian Bernard Berenson, who was determined to promote the study and knowledge of art as well as protecting it through increased public recognition, photographic documentation and the subsequent publishing of academic books.
The result was a range of series which helped mould art criticism over the decades, in particular the monographic studies of individual artists and academic overviews of national and international periods and movements.
Towards the end of the fifties Electa moved to Milan. Its sweeping projects focused on safeguarding Italy’s mainstream cultural heritage are joined by books and series on regional schools of art, on the so-called minor arts and on sculpture.
Other new ventures include those magazines and series of volumes which were to make Electa the leading publisher in the field of architecture in the world, together with moderately-priced series on art and artists aimed at the general public, a vast new market for Electa.
Over the years Electa consolidated its position, secure in its role and identity, embracing both contemporary art and architecture and other forms of artistic expression, such as photography, industrial design, fashion and gourmet cuisine.
This same period shaped Electa’s legendary photographic archive, which was to reach over 500,000 images in colour and black and white. Paintings, sculptures, architecture, the decorative arts and archaeology were all carefully documented through a series of prestigious photographic campaigns by leading photographers and by carefully designed specialist projects.
Electa Napoli opened in 1983, a brand with over five hundred titles dedicated to crucial events and moments in the art culture of Italy’s Mezzogiorno and the catalogues of the great exhibitions held in prestigious venues such as Capodimonte, the National Archaeological Museum, the Museo MADRE and Pompeii. Electa Napoli merged with Electa in 2007.
In 1998, after a series of financial manoeuvres, Mondadori acquired Electa and merged its production of illustrated volumes with that of its illustrious new partner.
In those years Mondadori’s catalogue of illustrated books assumed the guise it was to maintain and develop over the following decade, with manuals, cookery books, art books and prestigious illustrated books of reportage. Its travel guides, with the Mondadori Guides and Top10 series, produced thanks to a partnership with the British publisher Dorling Kindersley, anticipated the multimedia concept of intuitive interaction between text and images. Its sector dedicated to international co-editions also saw the development of some notable series and enjoyed a period of expansion.
1999 saw the publication of La terra vista dal cielo, by the French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, with ground-breaking images of the earth taken from the skies. In 2003 the first volume of the Oggi cucino io series came out: the format of compact cookery books, packed with illustrations and dense with pages and recipes, at a reasonable price was to prove a runaway success.
At the same time the production of books and entire series specifically for distribution with newspapers and magazines was also experiencing rapid growth, both in Italy and abroad. One particularly successful venture was the Enciclopedia dei Ragazzi, which ran into several editions.
Over the next decade the traditional coffee table illustrated volumes Mondadori Electa specialised in were joined by Mondadori’s Madeleines, a new series of biographies and autobiographies focusing on writers, chefs and Italian and international celebrities. The best sellers in this series were Il diavolo e la rossumata, which came out in 2012 and Il bacio di Giuda, published in 2014 by Sveva Casati Modigliani.
The Electa brand began publishing the ElectaStorie series, exploring the intriguing meanders of the art world, from the birth of great collections to the lives of prominent artists, together with the Smartbook series, offering an unusual, fresh and sometimes irreverent take on the figurative arts.
2011 saw the publication of Electa’s first books for children, the ElectaKids series, showcasing Italian and international children’s writers, with quality graphics and illustrations. The series was to prove a success with public and professionals alike, and the titles Mappe and Perché il cane ha il naso bagnato won the Andersen Awards in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Since 2012 Mondadori Electa has been publishing e-books alongside their hard copies. 2015 saw the publication of the ElectaYoung series, fiction aimed at teenage readers. Also in 2015 Mondadori published Sotto le cuffie, written by the youtuber Favij, a huge success which marked the start of a series of books written by web stars, the new online protagonists, with a host of popular youtubers and bloggers. Today Mondadori Electa’s trade production ranges from cooking to fiction, from autobiographies to non-fiction, from manuals to web stars, in an ongoing process of renewal and diversification.
Electa for Museums and Galleries
Since 2001 Electa has had an operational unit in Rome, whose Museums and Exhibitions division plays a high profile role in some of the capital’s principal cultural institutions. The division has curated the academic catalogues and guides to the museums under the management of the Rome Municipal Council, the inventories of the cultural heritage (archaeological sites and museum complexes) under the supervision of the Superintendent’s Office for Rome and Lazio’s Archaeological Heritage, the series for the MACRO and MAXXI galleries and the volumes for the National Gallery of Modern Art.
Over the years Electa’s Museums and Exhibitions Division has worked with some of Italy’s most prestigious museums and exhibition spaces, such as the Colosseum, the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, the Brera Art Gallery, the Museum of the Twentieth Century, La Triennale, the Palazzo Reale in Milan, Villa Adriana in Tivoli, the Ducal Palace in Mantua and the Palace of Caserta, as well as equally prestigious institutions abroad, from the British Museum to the Louvre, the Hermitage, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum of New York to name but a few, flanked by prestigious academic consultants and leading experts in providing infrastructure and services for museums and galleries. Significant partnerships have also been established with important international bodies, among them partnerships with the French Academy in Rome at Villa Medici and the Palazzo Grassi - François Pinault Fondation.
Significant partnerships have also been established with important international bodies, among them partnerships with the French Academy in Rome at Villa Medici and the Palazzo Grassi - François Pinault Fondation.
Today Electa is a highly-respected cultural partner guaranteeing the highest academic standards and impeccable organisation both on projects and the management of ancillary services such as museum bookshops. A consolidated position that has been reinforced over the years thanks to ongoing work with institutions and curators on cultural projects and themes, marketing strategies, communication tools and management and business models designed to achieve the targets set by the client.
Rizzoli and Mondadori Electa
In 2016 Rizzoli’s illustrated publications were also merged with Mondadori Electa.
Rizzoli has a long tradition in the illustrated publications sector dating back to 1966, the year they inaugurated their well-known Art Classics series. These comprised over 100 monographic volumes on great names in painting with a complete catalogue of their works. Rizzoli went on to publish numerous illustrated volumes on art and photography in Italy and abroad through Rizzoli International Publications, created in 1974.
In the 1990s part of the Fabbri Editore brand’s catalogue of illustrated books and art catalogues was absorbed by Rizzoli following a takeover by the Rizzoli-Corriere della Sera Group.
Since 2011, Rizzoli is the publisher of Philippe Daverio, popular art critic and television writer, who has published essays and bestsellers such as the trilogy "Il Museo immaginato", "Il secolo lungo della modernità" and "Il secolo spezzato delle avanguardie".
From 2000 onwards Rizzoli’s illustrated volumes expanded to cover new areas of interest, with particular success in the fields of music and fashion.
In the field of music Rizzoli was the Italian publisher for The Beatles Anthology, published in 2000, the only illustrated biography officially authorized by the British band. In 2007 Rizzoli published Una goccia di splendore, an autobiography in pictures and words by the Italian singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André, the first in a series of books on music produced in Italy or purchased as part of a foreign rights project with volumes on Jovanotti, Ivano Fossati, the Pooh, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and many more.
At the same time Rizzoli publishes illustrated biographies on leading Italian figures, such as Walter Bonatti. Una vita libera (2012), Tiziano Terzani. Guardare i fiori da un cavallo in corsa (2012) and Renzo Arbore. E se la vita fosse una jam session? (2015).
On the international market, Rizzoli made their mark at leaders in fashion books published in both Italian and English under their Rizzoli New York brand, with monographic volumes dedicated to leading fashion designers such as Giorgio Armani, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Etro and others.
Rizzoli has also published Federico Fellini’s Il libro dei sogni in Italy in 2007 and, in 2013, the Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini, collaborating on co-editions abroad. Both outstanding books that were also published in De Luxe limited editions.