Carlo Mollino - Design Masters New York Tuesday, December 15, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Franca and Guglielmo Minola, Turin, circa 1944-1946
    Private collection, gifted by the above

  • Literature

    "Turinese baroque," Domus, no. 229, August 1948, illustrated pp. 23, 25
    Giovanni Brino, Carlo Mollino: Architettura come autobiografia, Milan, 1987, illustrated p. 102
    Roberto Gabetti and Fulvio Irace, Carlo Mollino 1905-1973, Turin, 1989, illustrated p. 188
    Rossella Colombari, Carlo Mollino: Catalogo del mobili–Furniture Catalogue, exh. cat., Galleria Paola Colombari, Milan, 2005, illustrated p. 39
    Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, The Furniture of Carlo Mollino, New York, 2006, illustrated p. 86, fig. 70, p. 222
    Fulvio Ferrari and Napoleone Ferrari, eds., Carlo Mollino: Arabesques, exh. cat., Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milan, 2007, illustrated p. 74, fig. 81

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot is registered in the library of the Museo Casa Mollino, Turin, as number CM70-1.

    Carlo Mollino's Mechanical Flight

    Between 1944 and 1946 Carlo Mollino designed two apartments in a building on via Perrone, Turin, for the brothers Cesare and Guglielmo Minola. These two interiors mark Mollino’s transition from the surreal to the organic, and would be his first attempt at an “accampamento biologico” (imprecisely translated to organic encampment), as he would have named it. Fixtures and furnishings are natural and whimsical, distributed in a clean and tidy space ruled by geometric rigor and perfect proportions. Mollino’s photograph of the dining room of the Franca and Guglielmo Minola House, published in Domus in 1948, illustrates how well the space was organized: straight lines intersect on different levels, and all elements, even the radiator, became part of the composition. The present lot, “the macchina del lampadario” (lighting machine), dominates the upper area of the room. The light, mainly projecting over the table is also reflected in the living room. Observed from the side, as in a cross-section, the shade bears ironic similarity to a traditional table lamp, and like a table lamp it obscures the source of light. This was a technique often employed by Mollino: light bulbs and neon tubes are hidden and the light is diffused in reflection. Mollino designed only a few examples of this type of lighting which he called “a gronda” (gutter): the present example, two for Ada and Cesare Minola, one for Casa Orengo in 1949, and one for the historic exhibition “Italy at Work” at the Brooklyn Museum in 1950. The batwing-like brass structure of the present ceiling light suspends an ivory-colored polished surface punctuated by round metal nailheads and recalls the sensual construction of the first flying machines. Mechanical flight had been an interest of Mollino’s ever since he first encountered the History of Aeronautics in his engineer father’s library.

    Napoleone Ferrari and Fulvio Ferrari
    Turin, November 2015

  • 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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Unique ceiling light, from the Franca and Guglielmo Minola House, Turin

circa 1944-1946
Painted metal, brass.
43 x 119 x 18 3/4 in. (109.2 x 302.3 x 47.6 cm)
Produced by Corrado, Turin.

$150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $293,000

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

Design Masters

New York Auction 15 December 2015 5pm