Illy’s Art Commissions

Illycaffè, the Italian coffee roasting company that specializes in the production of espresso and espresso makers, has been making contributions toward the creation and exhibition of contemporary art, by supporting artists, institutions and international exhibitions, for over 25 years.


Sponsor in 2011 for the Venice Biennial, “Ascension”, a site specific installation by Anish Kapoor, marked by a whirling white smoke inside the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore.




One of their most interesting activities has been to transform an everyday object — the coffee cup  — into a small work of art, using ceramic cups as the medium.  For 25 years, this project has elevated the simple pleasure of drinking an espresso into an experience which involves the senses and the mind.

Over 100 artists have contributed designs, each adorning the white porcelain illy cup introduced by Mattheo Thun in 1992.   In 2006, the project expanded to another common,  if  unexpected medium —  illy’s own coffee cans.

The beginning of the Illy Art Collection was in 1992 when Francesco Illy asked a group of artists to express their creativity and over the years, over 100 artists — from well established artists to young talents — have been commissioned to decorate a set of six cups.

25 years later, leading names in contemporary art continue to create designs,  Some of the artists that Illy has worked with include Yoko Ono,  Marina Abramovic, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jannis Kounellis, Daniel Buren, Louise Bourgeois, Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Kosuth, Jan Fabre, Sandro Chia, and James Rosenquist, who created the iconic white brushstroke-on-red square illy logo.


One of the latest commissions is the set by Yoko Ono. “Mended Cups” which consists of six cups that bear gold, shattered and mended crack lines. These are accompanied by six individual saucers with Yoko Ono’s handwriting, naming six catastrophic events that have directly affected her life, and others only indirectly; but have brought death to millions of people.

Each saucer states the date and location of the event and concludes with the words … mended in 2015. The seventh cup in the collection, the “Umbroken Cup”, is untouched with no cracked or mended lines, reflecting peace and hope with Ono’s handwritten words on the saucer, “This cup will never be broken as it will be under your protection. “



2 Yoko Ono cups of 2015, and Sandro Chia cup from 1997

Emilio Pucci Fashion House Collaboration


Another one of the recent commissions was the collaboration with the Florentine fashion house, Emilio Pucci.  The new project represented the company’s first partnership with a fashion label. Florence, Rome, Milan, New York, London and Paris: Emilio Pucci’s signature patterns have now been applied to a special collection of decorated coffee cups, featuring 6 “Cities of the World” prints, exclusive, hand drawn prints depicting scenes from global metropolises, including one designed by the Marquis Emilio Pucci in 1957.

The story of Emilio Pucci’s “Cities of the World” prints began in 1957 when the Emilio Pucci penned his Battistero illustration, a drawing showing Florence’s Piazza Santa Maria del Fiore shot with bright flashes of vibrant lemon yellow tangerine orange, “Emilio” pink and deep fuchsia.  Originally produced for his chic silk scarves, the print was conceived as a portable postcard; a love letter to the Marquise’s hometown and a souvenir his clients could carry and treasure when they returned home. Roughly sketched and brightly colored, the original artwork embodies Pucci’s signature, well-known style and became the blue print for the other cities which were subsequently hand-drawn by the atelier of the Maison. 


Each print replicates the architecture, landscape and charming details of its tribute city in a stylized way. Rome’s historic Spanish Steps and Coliseum, Paris’ famed Eiffel Tower, Milan’s soaring Duomo, London’s whizzing city streets and New York’s sky scrapers, are all interpreted in a uniquely Pucci way.  Each city has been assigned two original color schematics from the Emilio Pucci palette, which are divided between the espresso and cappuccino cups, as well as the brightly patterned saucers.



two Emilio Pucci cups, 2016, and one Maurizio Galinberti cup

Other Art Projects:

At the Magazzini del Sale in Venice, Robert Wilson has designed an installation: “the dish ran away with the spoon everything you can think of is true”. The installation was inspired by the collections of coffee cups, in which images, lights and sounds mark a pathway which winds its way through various landscapes inhabited by objects and sculptures. The illy Art Collection cups live in this theatre-like landscape which Robert Wilson has composed through contrast and juxtaposition, creating a rhythm of audiovisual images and experiences.



In 1997 and in the editions of 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 illycaffe has been partner in Italy of the Venice Biennial of Visual Arts, where it sponsored projects and built spots to take a break and to put the visual suggestions in order. Some of these projects included:

In 1997 the sculpture “Valentine Perfume” at Venice Biennal

In 1997 the sculpture “Valentine Perfume”, an aluminium statue of seven meters, positioned at the entrance of the Biennial, and made by Claes Oldenburg, and his wife Coosje van Bruggen.

In 2007, illymind evolved into Push Button House, a work of art designed by the American artist and architect Adam Kalkin: a compact container that changed by simply pressing a button and opened as a flower in a viable and perfectly furnished space.

In 2011, “Ascension”, a site specific installation of Anish Kapoor, marked by a whirling white smoke inside the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore.

Some of  the other art initiatives have included:

Opening temporary spaces – the Galleria illy — that offer visitors a program of art, literature, and science; events with international names in design and haute cuisine. Galleria illy has been already opened in New York, Milan, Trieste, Berlin, Istanbul, London and Beijing

Launched in 2007, the illy SustainArt project offers artists of the emerging countries chances to be more visible. The core of the project is the Website, a showcase open to the contemporary art world, which acts as a reference point, a meeting place, a cultural exchange occasion for artists and curators coming from emerging countries. In this place they have the chance to show their works to major figures in a global contemporary art panorama: Meskerem Assegued, Carlo Bach, Carlos Basualdo, Suman Gopinath, Gerardo Mosquera, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mariangela Mendez Prencke, and Angela Vettese.

The IllySustainArt Prize goes in this same direction: the company awards it to an artist and a curator registered at the Website and to emerging talents selected on the occasion of significant international events, among which Arco Madrid, SP-Arte Sao Paulo, and Art Rotterdam.

Salgado: “Scent of a Dream” — A Journey in the Coffee World

In photography, Illy has maintained an ongoing collaboration with the well-known photographer Sebastião Salgado, who was commissioned to chronicle the origins and people in the world of coffee — bringing to life through black and white images, the multi-nation story of sustainability.

Started in 2002, when Sebastião Salgado and illy met, Scent of a dream is a photographic journey through coffee growing countries. The project is based on a shared common value: sustainable development.

The series, “Scent of a Dream”, was constructed, shot by shot, in ten of the countries from which illy buys coffee: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Tanzania. The black and white photographs celebrate the daily lives of those on the plantations, and the beauty of the regionsr from which the coffee bean is grown and harvested.

With the collaboration of Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation “Scent of a Dream” was exhibited at the Foundation’s gallery in Piazza San Marco in Venice. The exhibition consisted of 75 images from the photographic journey. The exhibition had an extensive tour in 2015 that included the Coffee Cluster curated by illy inside Expo 2015 Milan.

A book was published in conjunction with the exhibition, Scent of a Dream, with images selected by Lélia Wanick Salgado, with texts by Andrea Illy, Luis Sepulveda, Angela Vettese and Sebastião Salgado.

Salgado was born in 1944 in Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s major coffee growing regions, he found work as an economist for the International Coffee Organization. But photography went from avocation to calling, and in 1973, Salgado started a career in images by documenting the lives of poor, migrant workers in Latin America and Africa.

Additional information about Illy’s art programs can be found at



Special Report Just Released: Copyright and Changing Legal Issues

The expansion of the  internet,……… the accompanying  proliferation of social media,….. the growing participation of businesses in the artworld,…… and many artists’ increased understanding of their rights to their intellectual property — have all been causing a re-evaluation of numerous laws and practices that conflict with each other in the status of copyrighted works, fair use,  freedom of panorama., and other areas. 

A new special report has just been prepared that outlines recent changes  in the status of artworks created for public  spaces, and private and corporate art collections.

The report is a useful guide for artists, art collectors, corporate art advisors, and anyone involved professionally in the artworld.


Some of the new legal situations  that are detailed in the report include:  


A new provision in the French Code of Intellectual Property.  Since October 2016, article L122-5 of the French Code  provides for a limited freedom of panorama for works of architecture and sculpture. The code authorizes “reproductions and representations of works of architecture and sculpture, placed permanently in public places and created by natural persons, with the exception of any usage of a commercial character”.


In the United States, on April 11, 2016, the US District Court for the Central District of California struck down the California Resale Royalties Act. California had been the only state that recognized royalty rights in favor of artists in cases when a work of art was re-sold. The ruling noted that the Calfornia Resale Royalties Act conflicted with the Copyright Act of 1976 with the “first sale doctrine”.


Sweden is testing the apparent conflict between Creative Commons and Freedom of Panorama in their country. In April 2016 the Swedish Supreme Court ruled that Wikimedia Sweden infringed on the copyright of artists of public artwork by creating a website and database of public artworks in Sweden, that contained images of public artwork uploaded by the public.


The European Commission has been attempting to harmonize the laws of Freedom of Panorama throughout all its member states. This will change the practices in virtually all of the countries to make them consistent with French and Italian laws.  This is a development that needs to be closely followed to understand its impact on all artists, especially photographers, and anyone working in the artworld.


These are some of the new laws that are affecting the copyright status of artworks in both private and public collections, and in public spaces.  Know about these new realities so you can protect yourself and your intellectual property !


Topics include:

  • Copyright and How it Affects Corporate Art Collections
  • History of Copyright Law
  • Works for Hire and their Copyright Status
  • Creative Commons
  • Fair Use in Copyright
  • Visual Artists Rights (VARA)
  • Freedom of Panorama
  • Photographing Works of Art in Public Locations – a changing reality
  • California Resale Royalties Act
  • Tax Issues on the Ownership of Art


This 50 page report is available in a pdf format for $7.00

You can order below by clicking on the Buy Now button, and it will be sent to you via WeTransfer when your payment has been credited.  Orders will be filled within 24 hours.


I would like to order the Special Report on the Changing Legal Issues in Copyright.  — published in January  2018 for $ 7.00 US$

Thank you for your interest in our publications and website.

Editor: Shrley Reiff Howarth

Helping Artists While Helping the Environment

… artist in residence program that also helps the environment.

     Artists in residence programs have been proliferating,  and are very successful  because not only do they help the artists,  they can generate a body of work and art programs  related to a company’s activity.

A couple of years ago (December 2014), I featured an article about three artist in residence programs – Kohler, CERN, and the Recology Program.  I thought it was time to revisit the Recology program because it has a positive influence on not only providing artists with support and inspiration, but it is also going far to help recycling efforts in the San Francisco Bay area that ultimately are helping to restore the environment.  It is a truly innovative and visionary art program.

Recology is a recycling and waste disposal company in San Francisco. The Artist and Residence program has been providing  Bay Area artists with access to discarded materials, a stipend, and a large studio space at the Recology San Francisco Transfer Station.  By supporting artists who work with recycled materials, Recology hopes to encourage people to conserve natural resources and promote new ways of thinking about art and the environment.

The Beginnings of the Program

Jo Hanson, creator of the Artist in Residence program.

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology was established in 1990 at the same time that recycling was being implemented in the city and county of San Francisco.  Part of the  city’s plan was to design an education program to promote recycling and resource conservation. The SWMP and Recology San Francisco (then known as San Francisco Sanitary Fill Company) worked together to create informational ads and brochures about recycling, develop classroom presentations, and organize tours of recycling plants.

The goal was to teach people how to use curbside recycling bins and to encourage source reduction in order to promote a general awareness of how recycling helps protect the environment. Conceived by Jo Hanson, the Artist in Residence Program was the most innovative element of the education plan and the first program of its kind in the United States.  In the late 1980s Hanson suggested to Recology and the City of San Francisco that they develop an artist-in-residence program at the city dump which would offer studio space and stipends for emerging and established artists to create artwork from the waste stream and raise public awareness about environmental issues. Now more than twenty years later, the Artist in Residence Program has been nationally recognized and awarded, and countless artists, children, and adults have benefited from Jo Hanson’s vision.

One of the Artist in Residence for Fall 2017, Rodney Ewing

Jo was a guiding force for the program and served as a member of the program’s board from 1990 until she died in March, 2007.   The program has continued to expand and add new features, and since 1990, over 120 professional artists and 30 student artists have completed residencies. The studio is located at the San Francisco Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center (Recology San Francisco), a 47-acre facility that includes the trash transfer station (where trash goes before being sent to landfill), the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, the Organics Annex, the Public Disposal and Recycling Area (“The Dump”), and other recycling areas.  The facility is also the site for a three-acre sculpture garden containing work by former artists-in-residence.

by Cybele Lyle, 2017 artist in residence

The program has had four goals:

  • To encourage the reuse of materials
  • To support Bay Area artists by providing access to the wealth of materials available at the public dump
  • To encourage children and adults to think about their own consumption practices
  • To teach the public how to recycle and compost through classroom lessons that explain the city’s three-cart (recycling, composting, trash) system
Beth Krebs

As part of the program, artists speak to elementary school classes and adult tour groups about their experience of working with recycled materials, and when their residency is completed, the company hosts a three-day exhibition and reception to show the work they have completed.

Artists make three pieces of art for the company’s permanent art collection, and leave art created during the residency with the company for the next twelve months for exhibitions at off-site venues.  Current artists that completed their residencies in May are Cybele Lyle, Carrie Hott and Nathan Bryne.  Upcoming artists for 2017 include:  Rodney Ewing, Cathy Lu, Erik Scollon, and Beth Krebs.

The Sculpture Garden and Gardener in Residence Project

An experiment in biodiversity, Wild Apples for Jo is a bed of apple trees grown from seed. The garden installation is dedicated to the memory of Artist in Residence Program founder Jo Hanson and created by Susan Leibovitz Steinman


The Sculpture Garden  is a private, three-acre facility that includes more than 35 sculptures made by former artists-in-residence, with new pieces added each year.  Each facility tour includes a visit to the garden. In 1992, under the direction and design of  Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Recology San Francisco built the sculpture garden on a hill overlooking San Francisco Bay. The land functions as a buffer between the SF Transfer Station and the adjacent residential neighborhood, known as Little Hollywood. It was previously a field of ivy and ice plant.

The garden path is made from recycled concrete salvaged from the Embarcadero Freeway when it was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Bricks that line the path came from a building on Mission Street, and many of the plants in the garden were rescued from the garbage and brought back to life using Recology compost.

The goal of the Gardener in Residence Program (GIR) at Recology San Francisco is to bring awareness to the importance of native plant restoration, water conservation, and the value of compost as a soil amendment. The focus has been on  educating the public about sustainable landscape design techniques —  essential for reducing water useage and attracting native wildlife, such as bees and butterflies. Using the garden as a platform for educational outreach it is meant to encourage dialogue about these environmental issues.

The program provides experienced local gardeners and landscape designers with access to the Recology Sculpture Garden for site specific projects. In conjunction with Recology staff, the gardener-in-residence determines the appropriate areas for development within the three-acre sculpture garden, and will design and execute their plan by working hands-on in the garden. Projects are to incorporate drought-tolerant plantings, effective use of mulch and compost, and native plants.

——— ——— ———-

For more information, contact people for the Recology program are:
Deborah Munk: (415) 330-1415
Micah Gibson: (415) 330-1414
Sharon Spain: (415) 330-0747
Felisia Castaneda: (415) 330-9943
The mailing address is:  Artist in Residence Program, 501 Tunnel Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94134

The Recology website for the Artist in Residence Program is

Information on this and nearly 700 other corporate art programs and collections are included in the 2017 edition of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections here.