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True Story: The Origins of the Cinelli Art Program Part 2

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We continue to look at the evolution of Cinelli’s Art Program, from its first interactions with artists in 1980s Milan to its airbrushed pro-edition RAM handlebars to the heady mix of subculture, design and d.i.y. art that characterized the fixed gear movement to its iconic best-selling cycling caps.

 

As discussed in Part 1 of our look at the Art Program, whilst Cinelli’s collaborative relationship with artists goes back more than 40 years to its work with Italo Lupi, Alessandro Mendini and Keith Haring.

It was only in the early 2010s that these relationships crystalized into an informal “program” offering regular drops of products made in collaboration with artists and only in 2015 that the program would officially be baptized with a logo.

 

 

Starting in 2008 with the birth of its relationship with San Francisco rider collective MASH SF as well as the ground-breaking Cinelli X RVCA Pressure exhibition involving artists such as KAWS, Barry McGee, Phil Frost, C.R. Stcyk III, Cinelli rode a wave of cultural excitement around cycling that mixed subcultural attitude with Italian design and underground D.I.Y. art scenes.

 

 

This cultural moment brought Cinelli into contact with a new generation of international artists and provocateurs whose creativity it felt bound to share.

 

 

2011 saw the launch of the “Art Tapes” range with a Mike Giant Velvet Ribbon and MASH SF printed volée tape and Barry McGee Unicanitor bar saddle.
2013 the almost-mythical Cinelli Candela, a set of two Made in Italy carbon fiber track frames handpainted by Futura, 2014 the first cycling cap with an artist (what took us so long?), Ana Benaroya’s Eye of the Storm whilst finally 2015 saw the moniker “Cinelli Art Program” enter into its catalogues with official logo and caps designed by artist-riders Chas Christiansen, Alfred Bobe Jr and Lucas Brunelle.

Since then Cinelli has collaborated with over 20 artists on bikes, tapes, jerseys, one-off jackets but above all caps.

It is in fact the Cinelli Art Program cycling cap which has become a global symbol of an evolved, alternative and open-minded attitude towards performance cycling.

Stay tuned for the first Art Program launches of 2023 in the coming months by subscribing to our newsletter.

 

Discover more about the Cinelli Art Program products on our webstore.

True Story: The Origins of the Cinelli Art Program Part 1

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The origins of Cinelli’s unique relationship with art are scattered across the late 1970s and early 1980s.

They can be found in their graphic designer of choice, Italo Lupi who would go on to design Miu Miu and Fiorucci logos as well as Miuccia Prada’s private residence, in its commissions from stalwarts of the 1980s Milan design scene such as Alessandro Mendini or the Alchimia group, or in the exchange of letters and ideas between Keith Haring and Antonio Colombo that led to the now iconic Laser collaboration

 

 

But the origins of the Cinelli Art Program – the program within which the brand’s relationship with art has been formalized into products, most famously our signature cycling caps adorned with custom commissioned graphics for artists such as Futura2000, Ana Benaroya, Barry McGee, Mike Giant and Yoon Hyup – can be located in a single, unusual, moment: the Cinelli RAM AUTOGRAPH.

The Cinelli RAM, launched in 2001, was the world’s first ever integrated carbon fiber handlebar and stem.

A pioneering project at a time when carbon fiber technology was still nascent in the cycling industry, the bars were an immediate success in the professional peloton, with their stiffness and responsiveness literally changing the way a generation of professionals would ride their bike, as Gilberto Simoni so articulately put it in his interview in the Cinelli: the Art and Design of the Bicycle.

 

 

The success of the bar from a technological point of view immediately led to Cinelli’s favourite pastime: “play”.

Over the next 5 years a series of ever more exuberant and unusual hand-painted (or even randomly hand placed carbon strips…) graphic schemes were released, dedicated to different professional riders.

These were sold under the name of RAM AUTOGRAPH.

In 2010, Antonio Colombo’s friendship with the artist Mike Giant led to the brand commissioning Giant to produce a new RAM AUTOGRAPH graphic.

Thanks to the creative team’s closeness to the burgeoning fixed gear scene and urban culture in general they proposed to Colombo adapt Giant’s graphics to a series of more affordable and immediate products such as bar tape and cycling caps that could be purchased and used by urban track bike riders.

And it was these new Mike Giant illustrated products which inaugurated the first ever edition of the Cinelli Artist Program.
Over the last twelve years the brand has gone on to collaborate with over 25 different artists.

The opinionated, outspoken and spontaneous creative freedom of these artists, combined with Cinelli’s historical closeness to Il Grande Ciclismo has transformed the Cinelli cycling cap into the definitive icon of a new cycling attitude…

 

Discover more about the Cinelli Art Program products on our webstore.