Gio Ponti and Mauro Reggiani - Design New York Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Exhibited

    Circolo della stampa, Milan, 1958

  • Literature

    Lisa Licitra Ponti, Gio Ponti: The Complete Work 1923-1978, London, 1990, p. 160 for a similar example
    Irene de Guttry and Maria Paola Maino, Il mobile italiano degli anni ’40 e ’50, Roma-Bari, 1992, p. 41 for a similar example
    Ugo La Pietra, ed., Gio Ponti, New York, 1996, pp. 226, 229, 233-234, 251-252 for similar examples

  • Catalogue Essay

    Gio Ponti always had close connections with the world of contemporary art, and especially with Milanese art and artists. He also had a unique sensitivity to the formal potentials that could be tapped by combining old and new technologies, especially as these affected the use of synthetic materials. The ‘Distex’ (nylon) chair of 1955 with an imprinted pattern designed by the Como artist Mauro Reggiani marks the con.uence of these two tendencies. The nylon fabric used was produced by Carlo Monchetti of Legnano. The chair’s somewhat distended pro.le, recalling that of a contracted chaise longue, is in.ected by the effect of mass evident in the back and seat. Ample curves and a fuller, more robust profile mark the area around the projecting front of the seat, whose bulge stands in sharp contrast to, even as it effectively framed by, the brass supports which .ank it and the slight cantilever of the black armrests. The dynamic geometric pattern, combining a broken hexagonal .gure in sharp black outline with superimposed color .elds and linear elements, features muted hues of salmon, light blue, yellow and tan. This scheme establishes a vivid counterpoint with the rich black lacquer of the armrests. With characteristic brio, in this work Ponti balances abstraction and .guration in a way that translates this particular moment within modernist art and design into a new aesthetic contribution to the décor of the interior. The signature M. Reggiani is clearly visible on the bottom of the seat.

    The chair was part of a commission attesting to the historic collaboration between important figures in the world of architecture, design and art, and presented to the public in an exhibition curated jointly by Pier Giacomo Castiglioni (younger brother of Achille) and Alberto Rosselli at Milan’s Circolo della Stampa in 1958. Besides works by Ponti himself, the contributions of Osvaldo Borsani, Carlo De Carli, Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Enrico Perressuti, Ernesto Nathan Rogers, Alberto Rosselli, and Marco Zanuso, were presented among the architects/designers, and those of Pompeo Borra, Remo Brindisi, Bruno Calvani, Bruno Cassinari, Cristoforo De Amicis, Mino Maccari, Enzo Pagani, Enrico Paulucci, Mauro Reggiani, and Leonardo Sgroppa, were among the artists.

    In contrast to the Ponti chair, the pattern on the Frattini piece, designed by Enzo Morelli, is less abstract. It is a vaguely floral design, fusing deep red, off-green and orange/yellow. The chair itself is more compact and has brass studs marking the points of structural support; the overall language--taut dynamic form offset by fuller curves--is typical of Frattini’s design approach in general, even if the note of tectonic ingenuity visible in the inverted v-shaped supports stands out for its dramatic quality. These supports enable a diagonal pitch in the seat which makes for added comfort in relation to the well-supported curve of the back.

    The chair by Carlo De Carli is a red nylon armchair whose back has a .gural .oral design in green, red and yellow created by the artist Renato Birolli. Of the three chairs it is the least abstract and in some ways the most conventional. It might be called the most “feminine” because of its elegant expressive curves and delicacy of point support on brass legs, the back two of which are slightly angled. The lively design provides an effective foil for what is the bulkiest of the three pieces. All of these works, and the spirit of collaboration they exemplify, belong to a postwar ambient in which .gures like Rogers and Ponti, above all, responded to Le Corbusier’s call for a new synthesis of the arts at this time, giving an Italian, and speci.cally Milanese in.ection to the modern dialogue between art, industry, and design. P. Campiglio, “Ponti and the Artists,” Domus 91 (2009), 9ff. Anonymous, “Tessuti di nailon [sic] su bozzetti di pittori,” Domus 346 (1958).



Rare 'Distex' armchair, model no. 807

circa 1955
Printed fabric, fabric, tubular brass, brass.
31 7/8 x 30 1/8 x 40 1/2 in (81 x 76.5 x 103 cm)
Manufactured by Cassina, Italy. Seat with printed signature 'M Reggiani'. Together with a certificate of authenticity from the Gio Ponti Archives.

$14,000 - 22,000 

Sold for $47,500


12 December 2012
New York