Today I would like to write about one chair which is closed to my heart and which is offered in the upcoming Masterworks auction at Wright Chicago. It was designed by Italian, Turin-based brilliant architect Gino Levi-Montalcini (1902-74) whose only sister, Rita, was a Noble Prize recipient for Physiology. He started his career in the 30s, designing modernist buildings which materialized the principles of the Modern Movement: functionality, geometry, whiteness, and efficiency. But quickly, Levi-Montalcini discovered the power of expressive forms to capture the sensibility of modern design, and moved to create buildings and furniture in a new, expressive, striking, and personal style, as seen in his Mostra Nazionale dell Moda (below). Like other architects of his generation, Levi-Montalcini sought to design furniture for the homes he created, and thus developed and patented an innovative technique for reinforcing wood with steel, which enabled him to achieve minimalist, super slender forms of weightless appearance. He created a small number of furniture and therefore his designs can be rarely seen in the marketplace. This chair, designed in 1949, with its tall backrest and sculptural armrests, with its slender legs extended dramatically away from the center, was a part of a suite, consisted of four chairs and a sofa, which Levi-Montalcini created for his own home, Villa Montalcini in Turin (seen below in printed fabric at his home). Why do I love this chair? Because of its extraordinary design, for its authentic historical value, and finally, because I live with one of them. And thank you, Brian Kish for teaching me so much about this Jewish architect whose name is rarely seen.
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