In the wildest, most solitary and dramatic part of Capri, in the part which faces the south and east, where the island loses its human quality and become ferocious, where nature expresses itself with an incomparable, cruel strength, there was a promontory of an extraordinary purity of line, a rocky claw flung into the sea.
Gagosian presents editions of furniture pieces from Casa Malaparte.
Constructed on an isolated promontory on the rugged eastern coast of Capri, Italy, Casa Malaparte is a unique exemplar of twentieth-century Italian architecture. The visionary residence was designed in 1938 by Curzio Malaparte (the pseudonym of Kurt Erich Suckert), a provocative writer, editor, and intellectual active in the Italian literary and artistic avant-garde who was notorious for his oscillations between the ideological extremes of the era. Malaparte completed the home in 1941, realizing a strikingly spare design incorporating a trapezoidal exterior staircase that leads to a broad terrace overlooking the luscious green of maritime pine trees, the buff tones of limestone cliffs, and the aqueous blues of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Combining an austere modernism with interpretations of classical elements, Casa Malaparte exhibits a decidedly personal and poetic sensibility, leading its creator to declare the structure to be casa come me—a “house like me.”
The assertive sculptural presence of the house’s design extends to its interior and furniture, which Malaparte designed and which remains in situ. Its salon is renowned for its stone flooring; the expansive, irregularly placed windows that frame vistas of the sublime site; and its most iconic pieces of furniture. Famously featured as a primary setting of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 film Le Mépris (Contempt), Casa Malaparte has inspired generations of architects, designers, and artists, and is today preserved and used as a private home by the heirs.
Having lived at Casa Malaparte from his early childhood, Tommaso Rositani Suckert, who is Malaparte’s youngest descendent, has been committed to preserving its legacy. In 2019, he was inspired to produce reproductions of three emblematic pieces of furniture: a table, a bench, and a console. Each features a solid slab cut from a walnut tree that is supported by two columns of a different material: the table has legs of pine with rippling diagonal lines that wind around it; the bench is elevated by fluted columns carved from Carrara marble; and the console is supported by capitals cut from the rough, pockmarked textures of tuff stone. Sophisticated and elemental interpretations of architectonic post-and-lintel structures, their forms complement the house’s juxtapositions of nature and artifice.
To produce new editions of the furniture, Suckert conducted material studies of the original pieces, verifying his research by reviewing historical correspondence between Malaparte and his carpenter. Incorporating both advanced technological solutions and the traditions of Italian handcraft, each piece is meticulously formed with respect for the integrity of its captivating design.
Gagosian’s exhibition re-creates features of Casa Malaparte’s main salon room, providing architectural context for the furniture. Also on view are archival materials documenting Malaparte’s career, including first editions of books he wrote and journals he edited. Together with the furniture, these publications and documents present a fuller picture of the complexities of this unique figure’s vision.
Casa Malaparte, Furniture, 2022, installation view © Malaparte. Photo: Thomas Barratt. Courtesy Gagosian