The Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce, who was known for his often surreal designs that straddled the worlds of art, design, and industry, has died at age 84. His daughter, Milena Pesce, told the New York Times that the artist died from a stroke.

The news of his passing was confirmed in a statement from his studio on Instagram early April 4: “It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of visionary creator Gaetano Pesce.⁠ Over the course of six decades, Gaetano revolutionized the worlds of art, design, architecture, and the liminal spaces between these categories. His originality and nerve are matched by none.⁠”

The statement continued: “Despite dealing with health-related setbacks, especially in the last year, Gaetano remained positive, playful, and ever-curious. He is survived by his children, family, and all who adored him. His uniqueness, creativity, and special message live on through his art.”⁠

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Born in La Spezia, Italy in 1939, Pesce received a degree in architecture from the University of Venice. Between 1958 and 1963, he participated in the design collective Gruppo N, where he became part of the Radical Design movement. The movement revolted against 20th-century modernism, which rose in popularity alongside the era’s social and economic instability.

Pesce was a polymath keen to experiment with color, shape, and material. One of his most celebrated factory-made pieces, for example, is an armchair in the shape of a well-endowed fertility goddess connected to a spherical ottoman. The piece was not only surrealist in form, but also prodded the political in its portrayal of the subjugation of women. A self-described “enemy of the grid”, Pesce’s works revolted against the use of right angles, offering a counterargument to conventions.

In recent years he collaborated with Cassina in 2022 and Bottega Veneta in 2023. In the early aughts, he moved his studio from New York’s Soho neighborhood to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in order to accommodate up to eight full-time assistants.

His work has been show in such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art in New York since 1970. There, he was included it in at least 17 exhibitions and has works in its permanent collection.