An architect, designer, photographer and writer, not to mention a race-car driver and a pilot, Mollina's buildings include the Royal Theatre in Turin, and his furniture, like his photography, is ever more valuable. Inspired by the Surrealist movement, the Polaroids fuse together the interior space and the female form, encompassing Mollino’s desire to link strong representations of femininity with architectural design. Between 1960 and 1973 Mollino took over two thousand Polaroids of women within the interior setting, each picture carefully staged, and the twelve exhibited pictures serve as an example of this wide breadth of work. The women in the pictures, mostly nude, are mysterious, staring back at the camera lens through smoky eyes, independent, imperfect and knowing. Whilst each Polaroid tells a visual story the photographs also function as a collective, demonstrating Mollino’s dedicated vision of femininity and the interior.
There are also nods to Mollino’s more famous design work. A pair of red theatre chairs, from the RAI Auditorium, Turin, stand alongside a maple and glass coffee table and a red upholstered plywood chair, again from Turin. These pieces demonstrate Mollino’s position as one of the most successful furniture designers of all time, with one particular oak and glass table, sold at auction for £3.8 million, a record price for a post-1945 item of furniture. The Polaroids work in tandem with the exhibited furniture, exposing the underlying themes of sensuality and eroticism that run through much of Mollino’s work.
‘Carlo Mollino: Interiors’ is the most comprehensive exhibition of his work in the UK so far, providing a unique perspective of Mollino’s innovative and eclectic genius. The exhibition runs from the 7th May to 27th of June in Sebatian+Barquet’s Mayfair gallery space.
Sebastian+Barquet, 19 Bruton Place, London, W1J 6LZ
By Jack Moss