On June 8, 2018, Multimedia Art Museum and the Palisander gallery presented their collaborative project – the Mad House exhibition. The display in one of the best museums in Moscow combined collectable design and contemporary art. 

Curators: Anna Zaytseva (MAMM) and Alina Pinskaya (Palisander).

In the Russian language Mad House means mess and chaos. But in this case the expression should be taken literally. The imaginary owner of this house is a collector, a fetishist and in some ways a sociopath. His collection is a way of self-expression. The owner of the house evidently prefers pieces from the 1950s and 1980s but intentionally disrupts the customary layout of objects, feeling cozy in the resulting chaos. Artworks selected according to his extravagant taste cover the walls of the house densely. Design pieces are placed on pedestals abandoning their functionality.

Functionality of collectable furniture has long become less important than aesthetic qualities, recognizability and other artistic features. The mid-century style (the austere Scandinavian design, the expressive Italian outlines, the ascetic French modernism and the American bent veneer pieces) may still strike a balance between form and function, but the 1980s designers defy the consumerist approach to their objects and rip them out of their practical context.

One of the main designers of the 20th century Ettore Sottsass and his companions literally blew up the artistic landscape in 1981. Their Memphis line included ironic pieces of wild forms and bright colours which were made of unconventional materials. These anti-functional objects are passionately collected by the Mad House owner.

He is no less passionate about art, and in this case his emotions are more important than a solid approach of an art critic. Chronologically this collection begins in late 1980s. Judging by the presence of Kabakov’s, Chuikov’s, Bulatov’s and Pepperstein’s works, our collector is vividly – but not too сonsistently – interested in conceptualism. But his main collection dates from the 1990s and 2000s and will obviously be enlarged.

In his day the legendary Jean Paul Getty was accused of inconsistency and dominance of personal taste in his collection. It is known that Getty often never examined the pieces he had acquired and sent them directly to the museum he had founded. Only a small part of the collection settled in his own house. This is not what our collector is like. The art he collects forms a dense environment around him. It is not known if our hero has ever read Deyan Sudjic’s book, The Language of Things, where the London Design Museum director regards collecting as a means to control and organize at least a tiny bit of the chaotic universe, but probably this approach would appeal to him. This is a universe with its subtle laws which may not be visible to an outsider, but deeply meaningful to its creator in every detail.

Some of the exhibits were lent by the Stella Art Foundation, Artwin Gallery, Marina Gisich Gallery, Regina Gallery, Pierre Brochet and other private collectors.