Critics’ Picks

View of “Casa Malaparte: Furniture,” 2020.

View of “Casa Malaparte: Furniture,” 2020.


Casa Malaparte: Furniture

Gagosian | Davies Street
17-19 Davies St
June 15–September 19, 2020

In the filmic imaginary, Casa Malaparte in Capri, Italy, famously registers the domestic ennui at the heart of Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris (1963). Conceived in its entirety—from the layout to the furnishings—by Italian novelist, political journalist, and diplomat Curzio Malaparte, the iconic structure is a matchbox-shaped, Pompeian-red stucco dwelling perched on a promontory shrouded in vegetation and encircled by the aquamarine waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. A spectacle of landscape architecture, the home, built between 1937 and 1942, offered an ambitious vision of Italian modernism. Yet its interior is somewhat unassuming, charting the path for a rustic, Mediterranean minimalism.

For this exhibition, Tommaso Rositani Suckert, Malaparte’s great-nephew, has created editioned reproductions of the furniture that adorns the home to this day, staging them on white stone flooring to approximate Casa Malaparte’s beige tonalities. Three key pieces from 1941—a table, a bench, and a console––feature walnut slabs with varying supports: Doric columns in Carrara marble, rippling pillars of varnished pine, and squat tuff-stone capitals. Looming in the gallery entryway is a large landscape photo—housed in a burly wooden frame—of the rugged limestone oceanside that surrounds the home, providing the exhibition with a sort of escapist mise-en-scène.

Also on view are a collection of Malaparte’s personal effects, including Baroque porcelain figurines and a candelabra adorned with entwined cherubs; a display case featuring copies of Malaparte’s literary magazine, Prospettive; and editions of his wartime diplomatic memoirs, Kaputt (1944) and The Skin (1949). On that note, Malaparte’s checkered political past is diplomatically bypassed in the exhibition. Earning nefarious distinction as “fascism’s best pen,” he provided significant intellectual fodder for Mussolini’s National Fascist Party (PNF), yet openly mocked dictatorship as “the most complete form of jealousy.” Expelled from the PNF in 1933, he was intermittently imprisoned before and during the war, after which he would align with the Italian Communist Party. The exhibition’s account of Malaparte the aesthete is a limited one, but largely by design. After all, he referred affectionately to Casa Malaparte as the “casa come me” (house like me).