Max Clendinning: Interior Eulogies

13 Sep-1 Oct 2022


Curated by Simon Andrews.

Architect, interior and furniture designer, sculptor and artist Max Clendinning (1924-2020) was one of the most enigmatic and intuitive creators of the British Post-war Modern movement — a daringly liberated creator whose restless inquisitiveness sparked a touchstone to the popular zeitgeist. “It’ll be a great day when furniture and cutlery swing like the Supremes”, opined Michael Wolff RDI writing in the Society of Industrial Arts Journal in 1964. Clendinning however, had already weighed anchor — his course plotted to voyage yet further.

Together with his lifelong partner, the Slade-trained painter and theatre set designer Ralph Adron (b. 1937), Clendinning delivered some of the most sumptuous and wildly exotic domestic interiors of the era, employing their Georgian home in Islington as platform and canvas to an ever-evolving tableaux of shape, structure and colour. Journalists, writers and photographers, Norman Parkinson and Tim Street-Porter included, responded to these assured and highly personalised schemes, ensuring that it was one of the most consistently published interiors of its era.

An influential 1967 publication records totemic plywood furniture, delivered as if machine-readable hieroglyphs punctuating Pop Deco murals that roamed freely over walls, doors and ceilings. In a subsequent iteration of their home, all surfaces dissolve to a uniform palette of universal white, living components indistinguishable from walls and floors, an oversized illuminated Tulip offering an unanticipated gesture of familiarity. Then as now, these interiors continue to resist easy classification — post-modernist or pop yet neither; transcendental classicism unfastened from structure — landscapes of the unexpected.

In a special exhibition to be held during the London Design Festival, Sadie Coles HQ will present Max Clendinning: Interior Eulogies, an exhibition curated by Simon Andrews and undertaken with the support of Ralph Adron. Situated within an immersive environment of original mural designs, the exhibition will assemble previously-unseen works of furniture and sculpture from the collection of Ralph Adron, and from other private collections.