INTRODUCTION BY ROSSELLA COLOMBARI
No child knows what they will be when they grow up, yet in my case the course of my life was traced out right from the start... or at least that is how I felt.
I used to spend my afternoons in my bedroom building skyscrapers out of shoeboxes and odd materials. Today those shoeboxes have evolved into my exhibition projects and fair booths which I design and my ever curious mind is still always on the lookout for works of art.
I have always relied on the essence of objects as the guiding principle for my selections. This method of research, coupled with my experience in the eld, has had many professional repercussions: I have worked as an appraiser and technical adviser in the examination of numerous works and I have taught as an external lecturer at various institutes, for instance the preeminent Domus Academy.
The story which I narrate in this book is rst of all that of a life devoted to art, a journey back in time retracing a career which spans forty years, in order to share my experience and my ideas with those who read these pages. I firmly believe that life should be lived with irony, an attitude which I can still recall in my grandfather’s wry smile; when people asked him what he did for work, in his antique dealer’s mind, he would reply in Piedmontese dialect “mi vend il bosc” (I sell wood). Evidently, this wood could be anything, even a Bauhaus chair.
SELF – PORTRAIT
ACHAT ET VENDRE
LA MIA VITA CON MOLLINO
1980 — 2020
My life as a gallerist can be summed up in one anecdote in particular: one evening I was in the gallery late in the evening and a well-known psychoanalyst showed up at the door. I was lying on the floor trying to position a piece of furniture in the gallery window, and without any preamble he said to me: “What a fine toy store you have here, ma’am!” I told him that he was right and that my shop windows were exactly like my childhood playrooms. This is in fact exactly the case. My passion for movies has always also found its expression in the gallery. In my gallery, I am like an actor, amidst my mise-en-scène, a result of the fact that I am always “on the move”: repairing furniture, crawling underneath tables, lying on the floor, touching the furniture objects, smelling them, for there is nothing more pleasurable than the fragrance of solid wood. Objects speak to me through all five senses... And this is how my personal relationship with objects was born and developed.
I have been described as “a bundle of creativity with an odd spark of lucidity” and I must say that I agree in full with this assessment. Fortunately, over time this lucidity has been sharpened, leading to a more systematic and organized approach to my life. Initially, however, I acted mostly out of intuition and recklessness, spurred on by an authentic driving force stemming from the enthusiasm of my youth. Thinking back over my life, I realize that my de nitive starting point was the discovery of one object in particular, around which I constructed every aspect of my career: Carlo Mollino’s Vertebrae table, designed for the Lattes Publishing House. From my enamourment with this table and onwards, my ingenuous and childlike spirit have always remained intact and, while I could undoubtedly have done everything on a grander scale, when it is quality that you care about, it is dif cult to reconcile it with quantity, a philosophy which is deeply rooted in my antiques dealer mentality.
I have worked with many leading figures in various fields, such as the theater director Giorgio Strehler, the theater director and artist Bob Wilson, and the architect Jean- Michel Wilmotte. I have also always embraced dialogue with international experts and colleagues. Forty years after my discovery of Mollino’s Vertebrae table, I can now say that my deepest interest has always been the selection of masterpieces through an approach which has become increasingly more sophisticated and concentrated on quality, as well as on finding the time to write, study, promote and share my knowledge, in order to transmit what I know and love to other enthusiasts.
The life of a gallery owner revolves around two correlated activities: selling and, to an even greater extent, the tracking down and identification of works.
In 1980, before opening the doors of my gallery in Turin, I embarked on my first experiences in selling together with my sister Paola, who was to become an excellent companion for my journey through art. At that time, I didn’t know that the money which I had earned with such difficulty would later serve to finance the acquisition of my first love: a room divider by Carlo Mollino designed for Casa Minola in Turin. At the time, even though the scene was dominated by the Art Nouveau and Art Déco styles, I was instinctively drawn to modern design. As a consequence, I always visited galleries which focused their attention on the work of modern art and design. A year after my acquisition of the room divider by Carlo Mollino, over forty years ago, I opened my first gallery.
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