The upcoming auction curated by the department of Twentieth Century Decorative Arts and Design is characterized by the presence of exceptional works by celebrated designers, precisely documented based on their provenance and bibliographical and archival sources. Along with some masterpieces, the catalogue lists works in glass, ceramic, light sculptures and décor items, mostly by Italian artists and designers, for a total of 562 lots, which will be auctioned off over three days.
The first day’s auction will feature the most precious works, among which stand out a series of décor pieces, each one of a kind, designed by the architect and engineer Carlo Mollino for Casa M, in Turin, between 1944 and 1947. An imposing recessed wardrobe, consisting of an oak bench with plinth supports in Ornavasso marble, six coat hooks with an imaginative, sinuous shape, five brass knobs and all the original wainscoting is among the masterpieces designed by Mollino, which distill the essence of the surrealist spirit that infused design in the thirties and forties. Of analogous provenance and by the same author are two pairs of wall lamps, two recessed lamps and 29 sinuously curved brass handles, all documented by archived designs or bibliographies. The works by Mollino are completed by two stackable beds from an apartment in the Casa del Sole, in Cervinia.
Umberto Bellotto, the undisputed master of Italian wrought iron, whose exceptional “union of iron and glass” went for the record sum of 175,000€ at the last auction, is represented in this one by two extremely rare sculpture-vases in embossed sheet iron, one of which – in the sinuous shape of a snail – was exhibited at Bellotto’s one-man show in the halls of the 1923 International Expo of Decorative Arts in Monza. They are accompanied by an exquisite wrought iron candelabra dated 1944, executed by the Roman maestro Alberto Gerardi.
An extremely rare plate produced in the Soviet Union and an example of the so-called “propaganda ceramics” (Agitfarfor) produced in Russia after the revolution, testifies to the decorative prowess of the multitalented Soviet artist Alexandra Wassiljewna Stchekotichina-Potozkaja. A work analogous in every way to the one currently on exhibit in the “Soviet Porcelain” section of the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg.
Osvaldo Borsani is represented by several décor items, among them a mirror with a carved and gilded wooden frame, but above all by a coffee table with frame and surface in glass decorated in multicolored enamel, dating back to the early ‘50s and part of a series called “space concept,” the fruit of a direct collaboration between the artist Lucio Fontana and the architect from Varedo.
The designs for a series of refined design objects, also dating to the ‘50s, are attributed to the pencils of the BBPR studio, based on careful analysis of the style and a bibliographical search, as well as the fact that they came from the home of one of the studio’s collaborators.
In concomitance with the prominent exhibition of Gio Ponti’s work at the Paris MAD, a section of the catalogue is dedicated to ceramics, decorations and objects created by the renowned Milanese architect, among them some décor objects from private collections and from apartments in buildings designed by Ponti himself.
The section dedicated to light sculptures includes two ceiling-mounted lamps of the “six moons” model, designed by Angelo Lelii for Arredoluce, in the rare nickel-plated brass version.
A standout in the section including blown glass artwork from Murano is a rare goblet in mixed glass by Napoleone Martinuzzi, along with vases and chandeliers by Ercole Barovier, Venini, Seguso.
Vinicio Vianello is represented in the auction by a precious vase from the “Varianti” series, a prototype that belonged to the artist, signed and dated 1956, which was awarded the Golden Compass at the 1957 Milan Triennale and was then exhibited in the Italian pavilion at the 1958 Brussels Expo.
Décor items by Angelo Mangiarotti include two sculptural marble and bronze tables, and a rare credenza built by F.lli Frigerio of Cantù, part of the series featured in the December 1959 issue of “Domus” and homologous to the one recently exhibited at the Design Museum of the Milan Triennale.
Ico Parisi contributes some design objects from the’50s and ’60s; the architect Renato Angeli is instead represented by numerous one of a kind design objects, designed and made expressly for a Milanese home studio in the early ‘60s.
In addition to those auctioned off in June, there are more décor objects from villa Le Rose in Moltrasio, which were commissioned in 1931 by Guido Donegani, then president of Montecatini, to the Atelier Ruhlmann of Paris, along with two rare “Curule” stools by Pierre Chareau and an elegant Art Nouveau sculptured bronze lamp, forged by François Raoul Larche, portraying the celebrated ballerina Loie Fuller.
Ettore Sottsass, Duilio Barnabé, Franco Albini, Gino Sarfatti, Pietro Chiesa, Giuseppe Ostuni, Carlo De Carli, Angelo Brotto, Paolo Buffa and other prominent Italian designers, in addition to an interesting group of northern European décor items, fill out the contents of an auction that ranges from one of a kind pieces to high end design.