In April 2020, work by Italian architecture and design studio Archizoom was featured at the exhibition "Radical: Italian Design 1965-1985" at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston Texas. Though the company, which was founded in 1966, lasted less than a decade, the shared vision of designers and architects Andrea Branzi, Gilberto Corretti, Massimo Morozzi and Paolo Deganello was to have a profound influence on avant-garde design.
Radical and rebellious, the quartet’s experimental and influential work is now highly collectable. Some of the most significant and valuable works from the Florentine studio include the Superonda sofa (1966) and the Safari sofa (1966-68), which was fabricated by inserting a semicircle of six upholstered seats in to a lacquered modular square. Though the emblematic group disbanded in 1974 to pursue individual interests, their work features on design syllabuses and is still influential today. Their archives are held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the University of Parma, Italy.
The highlight of the furniture at Adam’s of St Stephens’ Green Mid Century Modern sale, which takes place on Tuesday, May 10th in a live online auction, is an Imperial Safari Sofa (lot 42) by Archizoom, produced by Poltronova. The modular piece is made up of three parts and as a result has numerous configurations. It is expected to fetch between €10,000 and €15,000.
Cocktail cabinets always feature in these sales and this auction will not disappoint if you are seeking to be shaken or a little bit stirred. For smaller budgets, lot 26 is a simple two tier Italian drinks trolley on castors from 1960 (€200-€400), while a sleek large model in black lacquer on a gilt metal base, with a very cool revolving interior, is seeking €1,200-€1,600 (lot 96).
While today's definition of a dry bar involves abstinence – or indeed a place to get your hair done in the United States – with regards to mid-century drinks cabinets, the difference is to do with plumbing – or lack of. This is the case with lot 24, a rosewood open dry bar cabinet by Erik Buch, with two pull out ice drawers and sliding glass doors. The piece, from 1970s Denmark, is listed at €2,000-€4,000. For smaller spaces, lot 159 is a very cool Aldo Tura cocktail set in lacquered goatskin with makers' label (€2,000-€4,000).
While office desks flew out the door at auctions over the past two years, as home offices became de rigueur due to the pandemic, the sale has five Eames (Model Eall7) office chairs priced at €400-€600 each, with three by Ico Parisi. These are priced between €800 and €1,500 for a rosewood high back model for MIM, from Italy circa 1960, with maker’s stamp.
Also listed are a fine selection of sleek sideboards, some by Gianfranco Frattini and Silvio Cavatorta, along with a good range of cool lighting fixtures, ceramics, mirrors, glassware and two Missoni rugs.
The catalogue also lists a significant collection of modern art from a deceased Dublin collector. The works were amassed over a period of thirty years and are “probably the best private collection of non-Irish modern paintings to come on the market in Ireland”, according to James O’Halloran of the auction house.
The 28 lots include works "from some of the titans of modern British, American and International art". The top lot – which graces the cover of the catalogue – is Patrick Caulfield's Coach Lamp. From 1994, the acrylic on board is estimated at €40,000-€60,000. Caulfield came to prominence when his work was included in the seminal Whitechapel Gallery exhibition in 1964, along with Bridget Riley and John Hoyland – who was one of Caulfield's greatest friends.
This exhibition saw the artist associated with the pop art movement – though he loathed this label – and preferred to be known as a formal artist. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1987 for his show The Artist's Eye, which forms part of the collections of the Tate Gallery, London, National Gallery of Australia and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The Tate Collection holds a number of examples of his work that feature lamps, all of which, like the one in this sale, employ a strong contrast of colour, shape and form.
Amongst other "Mod Brit" artists are works by luminaries such as Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland and Sir Terry Frost. A work by the artist Sir Matthew Smith, entitled Tulips in a Blue Vase (lot 71) is a "wonderfully colourful still life by an artist who studied under Henri Matisse in Paris" according to catalogue notes (€15,000-€20,000).
Other modern Irish artists represented in the sale include John Boyd, Mick Mulcahy, Francis Tansey, Eithne Jordan, Deborah Brown and Graham Gingles, along with very collectable graphic works by Francis Bacon, Sean Scully, Mark Geary and William Scott. These range in estimate from €500 to €5,000. adams.ie