Carlo Mollino

20 september 2006 - 07 january 2007

Curated by Fulvio and Napoleone Ferrari

GAM di Torino and Castello di Rivoli are devoting a great exhibition to one of the most outstanding figures of Italian culture.


Architect Carlo Mollino was born in 1905 and trained at the Polytechnic in Turin, where he graduated in 1931. A skier, driver, and aeroplane pilot, Mollino soon found himself well inserted in the lively cultural environment in Turin, between the two wars, where he made friends with personalities in the world of culture and art. Together with his meticulous technical training, which paid particular attention to functional aspects, in his projects there was always crosstalk between elements of modernity and a considerable sensibility for the past. From 1933 to 1973, the year when he suddenly died, he made a total of only about ten architectural works.

Particularly noteworthy among his masterpieces was the Società Ippica Torinese (1937-1940) in which rationalism intensifies and extols metaphysical elements, the building for the Slittovia di Lago Nero (1946-1947) in which the traditional Alpine ski-lift building was rethought in original form, and the new Teatro Regio in Turin (1965-1973), which Mollino himself referred to as “a shape somewhere between an egg and a half-open oyster”.


Equally important was his work as an interior designer. His Casa Miller (1936) and Casa Devalle (1939-1940) reveal a surrealist taste. In 1949 he started teaching at the Faculty of Architecture at the Polytechnic of Turin, and the following year he was invited to take part in a travelling exhibition in eleven American museums. Mollino never worked for large industry. Most of his furniture remained as one-off items. The most prolific years of his career came to a sudden end in December 1953, with

the death of his father Eugenio. The architect’s activities were suspended in favour of his passion for motoring and aerobatics. In 1954 he designed Nube d’Argento, an exhibition for the national gas company, and the following year he created, amongst others, a racing car, the Bisiluro, which took part that year in the 24 Hours at Le Mans. Later he created two record cars remained in a model state.

In 1960 Mollino returned to his work as an architect and started redesigning the apartment in Via Napione in Turin, which is now Museo Casa Mollino. Carlo Mollino left several essays and books, ranging from narrative to architecture, and on to skiing technique and photographic criticism, including Il Messaggio dalla Camera Oscura, which was written in 1943 and published in 1949.


Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea

On the third floor of the Castello di Rivoli there is an exhibition that illustrates Mollino’s great passion for photography, which was an extremely important aspect of his work. The display of his photographs includes material never shown before from international collections and from Museo Casa Mollino. A broad selection of works – over two hundred in number – together with emblematic items and the reconstruction of premises will make it possible to bring together various moments of what was always an intimate part of Mollino’s relationship with his own creativity.

The photographic works of the Turin-born architect can be divided into five main sections: photomontages of architectural items and photographs of interiors for specialised journals, black and white photography of a surrealist nature from around the 1940s, ski photography – which was mainly made for his volume on skiing techniques – photography from the second half of the 1960s and, lastly, his Polaroid shots of female portraits that he made from the 1960s up to the time of his death.


GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino

The GAM exhibition will give an broad vision of Mollino’s rich life, revealing his spirit, his poetics, the subjects and qualities of the artist’s works through the display of rare pieces of furniture. They are authentic, original and unique, and include the table for Casa Orengo, a “vertebra” table owned by the Brooklyn Museum of New York and granted on loan for the first time since 1950, and a stunning desk from the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

The exhibition will show works from private collections in America and Europe, including the most complete of all, which is that of gallery owner Bruno Bischofberger.

A selection of famous drawings by the architect, some of them made with both hands, will also be on display. Some of the most interesting works on show at GAM will be a record car 5,5 metres long built on a real scale by Gruppo Stola of Cascine Vica, the Bisiluro car, from the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, and the reconstruction of a bedroom with walls lined with capitonné silk.