Carlo Mollino - Design New York Tuesday, June 9, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gemma Acotto, Turin
    Private collection, Italy, acquired circa 1979
    Thence by descent to the present owner

  • Literature

    Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, The Furniture of Carlo Mollino, New York, 2006, p. 19, fig. 25 for the model's frame, p. 121, figs. 176-77, p. 229 for a drawing and another example
    Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, eds., Carlo Mollino: Arabesques, exh. cat., Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milan, 2007, p. 106, fig. 172

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present armchairs are registered in the library of the Museo Casa Mollino, Turin, as numbers 176-2 and 176-3.

    The present armchairs, covered in a dark green mohair fabric consistent with the original upholstery, represent two of only three known examples; four were likely made for Gemma Acotto’s home in Turin. The relationship between their form and construction are a true reflection of Carlo Mollino’s values, with the curvilinear profile originating in the frame rather than the upholstery. The interior structure is itself a work of art crafted by hand. Mollino would supply precise drawings to Apelli & Varesio, his preferred furniture makers, who would then execute to his exact specifications using historic techniques. This work was often performed on Sundays to preserve the secrecy of the design. The expressive and forceful presence of the present armchairs can be credited not just to Mollino’s inventive genius, but to this distinction in fabrication as well.

    Phillips wishes to thank Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, Museo Casa Mollino, Turin, for their assistance cataloguing the present lot.

  • Artist Biography

    Carlo Mollino

    Italian • 1905 - 1973

    Carlo Mollino made sexy furniture. His style may have grown out of the whiplash curves of Art Nouveau, but the sinuous lines of his furniture were more humanoid than vegetal, evoking arched backs and other body parts. Mollino was also an avid aviator, skier and racecar driver — he designed his own car for Le Mans. His love of speed and danger comes across in his designs, which MoMA curator Paola Antonelli has described as having "frisson."

    Mollino had no interest in industrial design and the attendant constraints of material costs and packaging. His independent wealth allowed him to pick and choose projects, resulting in an oeuvre of unique, often site-specific works that were mostly executed by the Turin joinery firm Apelli & Varesio. Apart from a coffee table that he designed in 1950 for the American company Singer & Sons, his furniture never went into production. Notwithstanding the support of Gio Ponti, Mollino's design contemporaries largely dismissed him as an eccentric outsider. However, the combination of scarcity (Mollino only made several hundred works in his lifetime), exquisite craftsmanship and idiosyncratic "frisson" has rightly placed Carlo Mollino in the highest tier of twentieth-century design collecting.

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Pair of armchairs, designed for the Acotto House, Turin

circa 1952
Mohair, beech.
Each: 33 1/2 x 32 1/8 x 33 1/2 in. (85.1 x 81.6 x 85.1 cm)
Produced by Apelli & Varesio, Italy.

$180,000 - 240,000 

Sold for $437,000

Contact Specialist
Meaghan Roddy
Head of Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1266


New York Auction 9 June 2015 2pm