I passed by Agostino’s shop every day on my way to class. If the impressive, enormous comedy and tragedy masks weren’t enough to catch one’s eye, then for certain the whimsical display of miniature characters accompanied by two curious yorkie puppies drew you in. I knew from the moment I came across those enticing masks I had to photograph this man and his art.
I mustered up the courage one day and walked in to ask if I could photograph him. It was as if I had access to the wardrobe to Narnia and had entered a new, magical world. Agostino kindly allowed me to join him in his shop while I captured his artistic process. I told him I was learning the language and wished to only speak in Italian. He patiently listened and repeated his answers, despite his ability to fluently speak English. There is something peaceful and reverent about watching Agostino work. His patient heart flows into his patient fingers and he creates with a calm rhythm. I left his shop feeling inspired and full of life.
Agostino is a genuine, kind man with a heart for aspiring artists. I learned he had quite the artist’s journey himself and had studied at multiple pristine academies within Italy, and was taught under knowledgable masters and professors. He fell in love with the city of Firenze (as we all do) and opened his own workshop in 1979. Since his time as a mask artisan he has “created a range of groundbreaking mask” that have gained popularity and inspired local artisans in Florence. Now his daughter, Alice, helps him run his business and continue the art form. Agostino continues to create masterpieces and he will always “seek continuous evolution” and push the boundaries of the art of mask making.
I hope you enjoy my visual interpretation of the whimsical world of Agostino Dessì.
(If you ever find yourself in Florence or want to learn more about Agostino and his art please take a look at his website!)