DescriptionPiero Fornasetti (Italian, 1913-1988) and Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891-1979)
Rare Early Illuminated Architettura Trumeau Bar-Cabinet, designed 1951, produced 1950s
Wood, metal, lithographed and transfer printed laminate, brass
87-3/4 x 31-1/2 x 16 inches (222.9 x 80.0 x 40.6 cm)
This work was confirmed with Fornasetti, Milan
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Molly Goodman, Chicago and New York;
Thence by descent to Jackie Seiden, Chicago;
Thence by descent
Piero Fornasetti remains a unique figure in the history of 20th century design, particularly when considering the breadth of contributions to the field made by Italian mid-century practitioners. The Milanese designer's work is significant by any standard measure of weighing his output and influence, but furthermore he created an entire visual world that remains unique, and completely recognizable. His focus was not solely on form and function, which explains in part his design collaborations with designers like Gio Ponti, but rather in the immediacy of vision, and what he could express through activating, much like a canvas, the surfaces of objects. In the end, Piero Fornasetti created his own expansive series of works inspired by some of the great themes of 20th century culture: surrealism, fantasy, imagination, the figure and the built environment.
Of all his work, those objects designed and executed in the 1950s remain most prized, and this rare trumeau is no exception. Playing with the archetypal furniture form, Fornasetti designed several variations of the secretary bookcase experimenting with form and decoration.
This example, designed with Gio Ponti, is built in the Neoclassical style, with restrained formal characteristics. It has a flat rather than curved or shaped top, and features a slightly more modern styling. The lower section, a bureau, is raised on tapered brass legs (one of Ponti's contributions to the design) and opens to an illuminated writing surface surmounted by cabinet enclosed by twin doors flanking a central concave cylinder, itself also lit from within. The doors open to reveal an interior shelved with glass.
The cabinet features trompe l'oeil architectural designs applied via printing throughout the cabinet. Its vintage is subtly expressed through the warmth of the panels and the gentle wear indicating its utility over the six decades of family use. Originally acquired in London by Molly Goldman of Chicago and New York, a fashion model and artist, it was installed in her penthouse apartments on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Upon her retirement, it was passed to Jackie Seiden, a well known Chicago artist and arts educator, becoming a fixture of the colorful and beloved home she shared with her husband Don Seiden on Pratt Boulevard. It recently passed to her son, a London based architect and property developer.
This cabinet shares provenance as compelling as the sensibility of its makers, and remains an outstanding early example of Piero Fornasetti's mastery of design, his unique and successful collaborations with the seminal designer Gio Ponti, and an important example of the innovation, style and significance of Italian mid-century design.
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