Saturday, 12 October 2013

NSFW The varied life of Carlo Mollino

The randomiser that is tumblr recently put me onto the work of Carlo Mollino, the 20th century Italian architect and designer. It took me a moment or two to work out that he was also in his later life, the pornographic equivalent of a Sunday Painter.

Mollino was a flamboyant designer who had many interests ranging from race cars to skiing to the occult. He is often quoted as saying, "Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic." and this sentiment sums up much of his professional work. His furniture has a whimsical quality and nowhere is this more apparent than with his tables. They often utilise glass tops which negate the functional surface and reveal the flowing lines of his beautifully organic supporting structures. These table legs remind me of the delicate, elongated bones of birds, or the slightly more sprawling legs of stick insects. They all possess an overt femininity with their sweeping curves, or hourglass shapes. This leads us to his photography...

Mollino kept an appartment in Turin dubbed the ‘warrior’s house of rest’. He reputedly never spent a night there, but with the aid of a housekeeper kept it in immaculate condition. Purportedly the space was for him a kind of tomb inspired by the funerary culture of the ancient Egyptians. It was into this beautiful 'mausoleum' that he invited models and later prostitutes to pose for photographs. He initially shot them on Leica cameras, but later moved to Polaroid and after he died in 1973 over a thousand Polaroids were discovered in the flat. These erotically charged images show his models in poses ranging from the Classical to the mundane to the pornographic. He claimed that the contents of his apartment, including his boat-shaped bed and his Polaroids, were intended to accompany him after death into the afterlife, much in the way that an Egyptian pharaoh or Chinese Emperor would enjoy his material wealth if he were buried with it.

Disignboom has an excellent set of images featuring Mollino's Polaroids and images of his exquisite flat.

Dennis Cooper has more fantastic photos of Mollino's apartment and more Polaroids.









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