DIATO, Albert (1927-1985)

Ceramic mural - sandstone and polychrome glaze; signed and dated lower right "Albert Diato 1960". White monochrome ceiling, stucco and mixed media, 672 x 450 cm
260 x 670 cm
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Monaco
Donating country Monaco
© Photo: UNESCO/R. Fayad. Detail of the work
Sandro Agénor

In 1960, the Principality of Monaco, like other UNESCO Member States, donated a room to the Organization’s Headquarters in Paris, by handling both its construction and decoration. The Principality commissioned Albert Diato for a ceramic mural which, like a decorative panel, would occupy an entire wall.

Biography of the artist

Albert Diato was born in Monaco in 1927; he was a ceramist, painter and poet. In 1947, at the age of 20, he started as a ceramist in Paris, and then moved to Vallauris, upon Picasso's invitation. They there founded, along with Francine del Pierre and Gilbert Portanier, "Le Triptych", a communal workshop devoted to self-taught ceramics.

Between 1950 and 1954 Diato exhibited his works in several European capitals, including London, where many pieces were acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum. He later became a fellow at the Institute of Art for Ceramics in Faenza, Italy, a period during which he was particularly interested in working with sandstone, a ceramic form noted for its hardness. After two years in Faenza, he moved to Milan, where he opened a workshop. Around this time, he won the silver medal at the XI Milan Triennale and the first prize in the Faenza ceramics competition (1956), as well as gold medal at the International Ceramics Exhibition in Ostend (1959). Following this success, Diato began two significant works, a low-relief ceramic for the Princess Caroline of Monaco Library and a ceramic mural for the Delegates Room at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, both completed in 1960. He remained in Paris until 1967, where he was housed in the attic of a buttons wholesaler.

Diato then left Paris in order to travel to Afghanistan, where he met the King as well as the Istalif potters. He produced several works in the region, including a ceramic and lapis lazuli low-relief for the living room of the French Embassy in Kabul and another room for the King’s house. This period left a deep impression on Diato, both for its artistic influences as well as emotional ties.

He returned to Paris in 1971 and settled within an artists community in Montmartre, pursuing a personal artistic research; his "nyctalopic birds" belong to this period. He left the city again in 1984, this time for Togo, after which he decided to return to Monaco, where he began teaching at the School of Decorative Arts.

Diato passed away on 13 August, 1985, in Nice (France).

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