The collection
Stool with a wood and strap-steel base supporting an old-fashioned metal tractor seat in bright yellow.

Stool, Mezzadro

Designed by
Achille Castiglioni (1918–2002) and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni (1913–1968)
Chromium-plated steel, painted sheet, metal, beech
Produced by
Zanotta S.p.A., Nova Milanese, Italy
51.4 x 48.8 x 50.8 cm

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, D90.201.1

This stool cantilevers a tractor seat on a strap steel support, and the introduction of an industrial farm implement into everyday use reflects the Castiglioni’s wit in translating a rural object to a modern setting. Zanotta’s advertising shows a woman happily balanced in a few positions on the seat.

Mezzadro means “tenant farmer,” and the appropriation reminds one of Dada provocations of the early part of the century, such as Duchamp’s presentation of a urinal as an artwork. There was a gap of more than a dozen years between the date of design and the start of production in 1970—a period when radical Italian design was accepting of such fantasies.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, photo: Denis Farley.