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Francesco Zanot: Mollino #MeToo

Francesco Zanot: Mollino #MeToo

Carlo Mollino: Photographs 1934–1973 by Francesco Zanot (editor), 2018.

When the #MeToo movement and denunciations about sexual harassment appeared in Hollywood, I was curious to know when the first architect would be caught up in this maelstrom. (Using professional creed to solicit “favours” is not reserved to actors and producers). Only in early 2018 an architect was named for the first time in the media. It was Richard Meier. I have no intention to judge Mr. Meier. All I know is that he left the office which still bears his name shortly after the scandal started. The architect had invited young ladies who were working in his office for private working sessions in his own house. There, all he really wanted was to see them naked and have them pose for photographs so the article which first appeared in the New York times reads. If this is true, shame on you Richard Meier.

However, there is another 20th century architect who loved to take pictures of naked (or almost naked) women: Carlo Mollino. Carlo Mollino Photographs 1934-1973 sheds some light on this pastime (of taking photograph, that is). The Italian architect Carlo Mollino was, without a doubt, a strange and funny character. He was a dandy who not only produced buildings, but also books, racing cars, furnitures, interiors and… photographs. You can call him multi-talented. Someone who was not only able to draw and build but also to expertly ski, race and fly planes. Many books have already been dedicated to Me. Mollino, but this is the first one which covers the photographic aspects of his whole life. (See for example the previous Polaroids book, reviewed here a few years ago). By publishing his photographs on a wide variety of subjects within one single publication, the boo’s editor, Francesco Zanot, let us make a discovery. It becomes clear that Mollino’s real obsession were not naked women. No, his obsession were curves. The generous curves of an antique statue, the technical curves of the tables he designed, the geometrical curves left by a skier on the slope of a snowy mountain, the aerodynamic curves of the bodywork from a racing car and last but not least the soft curves of a naked body. And even if erotic photography was obviously one of Mollino’s passions, this book gives us the chance to understand them in the context of a diverse œuvre.

You will discover images of trips in the USA, India or Japan (his Japan photographs were previously published in a very rare small publication). When he photographed the works of other architects, for example Frank Lloyd Wright’s, Mollino never tried to document buildings. Instead he managed to create unique images which belonged only to him and his eye. The book is a great opportunity to see a strange mixture of rounded objects, snowy mountains, modern buildings and happy faces. Of Mollino’s models we know that they were sometimes friends, sometimes paid courtesans. But you won’t see pornography, only gentle eroticism. And Mollino’s models smile a lot. 

- Thibaut de Ruyter

Carlo Mollino: Photographs 1934–1973 by Francesco Zanot (Author, Editor), Enrica Bodrato (Author), Erik Viskil (Author), Fulvio Ferrari (Author), Carlo Mollino (Artist). Softcover, 264 pages, bilingual edition, colour, 17,8 x 2,5 x 24,8 cm, 2018. Silvana Editorale