Italian Gemma Taccogna is recognized as THE master of paper mache. She began crafting toys for herself in the early 1950’s, playing around with the medium, and developing her whimsical style. Her work sold to stores like Sak’s 5th Avenue, Nina Ricci, Sciapparell and others. She created large busts for the famous hat designer, Mr. John.
She married and moved to Mexico in 1954. She opened a large studio and workshop and produced a lot of work. It was then that Peggy Guggenheim discovered Taccogna’s work. Soon her pieces were being exported all over the world.
In 1966 she closed the factory and moved back to the US. By then, her work was being copied by many other artists in Mexico. She never stopped creating. Gemma died in 2007.
There are many other beautiful paper mache busts and figurines made in the style of Taccogna’s work. Take for example Pride Creations of Japan. Their figurines might not be as refined, but they certainly are cute.
Laurids Lonborg of Denmark also had a line of paper mache dolls. These are delicate and resemble the Taccogna dolls. It would be interesting to know if they were trying to replicate her work.
Images from “papier-mache artistry” by dona z. meilach, 1971 found on Cathy of California, Gemma Taccogna lion from Mid Mod Mom, Gemma with bracelets from Papier Mache, Pride Creations paper mache bust from Honey Sticks Vintage, and Laurids Lonborg paper mache bust from Mid Mod Mom.