This astonishing book of numbers was first published in Milan in 1945 at a time when Bruno Munari and the Mari couple were also working there on artistic picture books for children. It is highly formalized in structure with a precisely calculated, identically repeated page layout, and cannot deny its connection to the art currents of abstract and concrete art.
The double spreads are divided into two horizontal parts by a fine, solid black line. The upper third of the pages shows a number of small stylized objects on the left and more abstract representations of the corresponding number on the right. The lower right side is divided into two squares, one white and the other black. Opposite appears a large rectangular white area. As readers turn the pages, all of these surfaces fill with various objects: Trees and balls on the upper left, lemons in the rectangle, numerals, colored bars, and a hand holding up its fingers accordingly on the upper right. The counting fingers accompany the row of numbers, as do colored bars that seem to move in irregular order on the black square.
With the combination of these many different elements, Veronesi breaks up the uniformity of a counting process and directs the eye and imagination in completely different directions. The left side with its row seems rather static, while the right side of the picture unfolds a dynamic impression through the hand, later the two hands, with the splayed fingers and the seemingly moving colored bars on the black square. The simple row of numbers is thus transformed into a dynamic game with changing graphic forms, and the act of counting becomes the main element.
Luigi Veronesi, born in Milan in 1908, died there in 1998, was a painter, graphic artist, photographer and filmmaker and is considered a prominent representative of Italian Constructivist art. As a schoolboy he took private drawing lessons. Later he transferred to the prestigious Milan Polytechnicum, where he studied textile drawing and painting. Beginning in 1932, he turned to abstract art and in 1935 participated in a first exhibition of Italian abstract artists in Turin. During these years he created various abstract films and painted photograms. In 1948 he joined the group MAC (Movimento Arte Concreta), to which Bruno Munari also belonged.
In his painting he devoted himself particularly to geometric forms, combining them in the 1950s more frequently with organic form design and soft color modulations. For many years Veronesi taught composition and color theory in Venice and Brera/Milano.
Klaus Holbert (ed.). Luigi Veronesi. Rationalistische Abstraktion / Rationalistic abstractions. 1927–1996. Institut Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, Mazzotta, 1997