As Italy suffered ruins and economic despair following the end of the War, the American government sought to assist with a variety of programs; showcasing Italian industry and craft to American consumers was one of them. The ambitious show was enabled by the combined efforts of the Italian government and the United States Economic Cooperation Administration for Italy. The first attempt to expose Italy's achievements in style and design, it was meant to give Americans their first comprehensive view of a new cultural renaissance burgeoning in Italy and to stimulate a consumer interest.
Every piece exhibited, furniture, leatherwork, ceramics, book bindings, toys, lighting fixtures, was completely contemporary, and made in 1950. None of the traditional objects offered by Italian manufacturers to the Jurors responsible for the selection was accepted, and the mission statement was showcasing modern craft and design.
While the show was arranged in five full-scale interiors, commissioned by Italy's leading architects, there is one memorable image which has become synonymous with this historical event, featuring Mollino's dining table in a fictional luxurious home (below). In fact, Mollino himself created one of these five rooms, but it was not the dining room. It was rather a space entitled 'All-Purpose Room (For Moderate Income),' featuring elements suited for contemporary Italian life.
Now that the Brooklyn Museum has decided to deaccession several important works of art from its collection -- the dining table included – this masterpiece will be leaving its home, the storage of the Brooklyn Museum for the first time since its debut. The glass top was replaced, and the entire table is in a great original condition. The eternal question, which is still remained unanswered is what happened to the suite of six chairs, photographed at the Mollino's studio just before leaving for New York in 1950, and never made it to the show; only one of these chairs can be seen in the iconic photo. A mystery which will probably never be solved.
All photographs curtesy Sotheby's.