The Metropolitan Museum of Art does not often invite visitors to sit directly on the art, but they have made an exception for these Washington Skeleton Side Chairs (2013), designed by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, which can be found in the gallery where the 2020 Holiday Tree is on display.
These delicately balanced, precisely engineered chairs emerged from the design process for the façade of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which opened in Washington DC in 2016. David Adjaye developed an intricate lattice form that was an investigation of the geometry, materiality, light and shadow.
Both functional in its shading role, and poetic in its abstract visual qualities, this screen borrowed from African design patterns but also paid homage to the history of enslaved blacksmiths and their ironwork for ornamental gates in southern cities such as New Orleans and Charleston.
Utilizing the smaller scale of furniture as an agile testing ground for these architectural ideas, Adjaye produced what he describes as a “narrative about skin, form and structure.“ Here, he shapes the skeletal, ribbed surfaces to mimic the form of a seated person, resulting in a cantilevered, ergonomic silhouette that almost disappears when in use. Made of die-cast aluminum, then powder coated and copper plated, the chairs are manufactured by Knoll International.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
This set of French Doors was originally installed in the Sedgwick S. Brinsmaid House, one of the earliest examples of Prairie-school architecture in Iowa. The horizontally oriented building, with its stucco-and-wood surface, pierced details, and abundance of geometric leaded glass, relates closely to works by Frank Lloyd Wright. A contemporary of Wright, Arthur Heun began his architectural career in Chicago and was an important member of the Chicago Architectural Club, where he exhibited a design for this house in 1902.
Sash windows, chandeliers, and lanterns were designed en suite with the doors; the distinctive element is the chevron pattern, its angles echoing the broadly projecting gables of the house.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Provides Perfect Backdrop to Jun Kaneko Sculptures in Public Art Exhibition
Are you a fan of the late Architect Frank Lloyd Wright? I sure am. When I visited Chicago on my 2019 summer vacation, Geoffrey and I took a day trip Oak Park to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and we had all kinds of crazy fun. If you are also a lover of art and architecture, and you also have the means to travel to Buffalo, New York, here’s an excursion that is worth the effort to get to. The Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative has partnered with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House to present an exciting installation featuring artist Jun Kaneko’s monumental ceramic sculptures, which will be on view through early October 2021. Titled The Space Between: Frank Lloyd Wright | Jun Kaneko, the installation comprises seven of the artist’s enormous, freestanding ceramic works for outdoor display on the newly restored grounds of the Martin House estate.
Born in Japan in 1942, Kaneko is an internationally renowned artist primarily known for his pioneering work in ceramic materials. His large pieces, called dangos, are the result of a complex traditional Japanese raku firing and glazing process that produces unique geometric shapes and vibrant color combinations. “In this era of social distancing, the safe, engaging, stimulating experience that public art provides is more important than ever before,” said Janne Sirén, Albright-Knox Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director. “We are proud to collaboratively present this exhibition with the Martin House as our organizations strive to fulfill our missions of enriching and transforming our community.” Wright and Kaneko were both pioneers in their fields, and Wright had an enduring interest in Japanese arts and culture and a reverence for nature, all of which are beautifully captured in Kaneko’s work.
“This public art installation is a unique opportunity to experience the interaction between Kaneko’s sculptures, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, and the surrounding landscape,” said Mary Roberts, Martin House Executive Director. “The site is now reopened to public tours, and the artwork has provided another reason to visit the estate.” Many of Kaneko’s works represent years of production time due to their immense scale, which takes months to slowly build up to avoid the works being crushed under their own weight. The tallest works in the exhibition are more than 10 feet tall with walls in excess of three inches thick and weigh close to 3,000 pounds. Their fired slip-surfaces create a glass-like coating suitable for outdoor public display in the extreme weather conditions that will occur during the sixteen-month installation.
In addition to the seven large works on the grounds, several smaller works will be on view inside the Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion, the Martin House public visitor center. The selection of works for the installation has been curated by Albright-Knox Public Art Curator Aaron Ott and organized by Martin House Curator Susana Tejada. Visit This Link for more information, and to plan your visit!
It was at the 2019 Salon Art + Design that we spotted this very rare and early first edition of the Flora / Model 852 Cabinet (1937) created by Austrian architect and designer Josef Frank (1885 – 1967). The cabinet was part of a prolific collaboration with Estrid Ericson, of the Swedish interiors brand Svenskt Tenn, which produced and retailed the piece. This piece was manufactured in 1950.
Cabinet Measures: 55¼ in. (140.3 cm.) High, 45 3/8 in. (115.3 cm.) Wide, 17 in. (43.2 cm.) Deep
This collaboration featured Frank’s highly developed personal style which focused on elements of Viennese elegance and Swedish functionalism. He wanted to incorporate natural forms and colors into his interiors, so that the inhabitants could breathe freely in the enclosed spaces. He believed that “ornament and complexity create peacefulness and get rid of the disturbing aspect of pure functional form.” A perfect example of this ideology is the Flora cabinet.
For the cabinet’s exterior, Frank (who also designed textiles) used hand-colored botanical prints from Carl Lindman’s book, Bilder ur Nordens Flora, which he then delicately applied onto the mahogany front and sides of the piece. Oak was also used in the manufacturing process, and the birch interior is fitted with four adjustable shelves. The contrast between the delicate floral motifs and heavy wooden form instills the cabinet with a light, playful and organic sense. Contrasting materials evoke an echo of the past, but create an indisputably modern piece.
Installation View with Eames Shelving Unit (All Photo By Gail)
This side char was the product of a team research project led by Marcel Breuer (1902 – 1981), a celebrated architect and émigré known for his tubular metal furniture, and designer of the original Whitney Museum Building on Madison Avenue in NYC. Collaborating with the US Forest Products Laboratory, he applied knowledge accumulated over fifteen years of experimentation, as well as new developments in high-frequency gluing, to plywood construction.
The team’s report boasted of the chair’s ability to carry a load of five hundred pounds, and the jury of MoMA’s International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture described the design ad “ingeniously articulated.”
Photographed as Part of The Exhibit The Value of Good Design, on Through June 15th, 2019 at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Valuing geometric simplicity and economy of means, Lina Bo Bardi (1914 – 1992) designed the Poltona Bowl Chair with a steel frame and stackable seat containing two circular cushions.
The shell on the metal ring can be adjusted in all directions to suit the position of the sitter. Bo Bardi, who emigrated from Italy to Brazil in 1946, played a lead role in advancing modernist architecture and design in postwar Brazil. Among the landmark buildings she designed was her Sao Paulo home, the Glass House (Casa de Vidro) which she furnished with Poltrona Bowl Chairs.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, where it is on display for the first time as part of the exhibit, Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, on view through August 13th, 2017.
Primarily known as a painter and architect, Roberto Matta (1911 – 2002) designed his Malitte Lounge Furniture in 1966. This colorful collection of polyurethane foam shapes (manufactured by Gavina, Italy) could be stacked into a rectangular wall or used as individual pieces of seating. The round, center piece serves as a table. The design is playful and flexible, Its interlocking organic shapes reflect Matta’s training as an architect in his native Chile, as well as his Surrealist painting practice, which developed after his move to Paris.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Below, Malitte Lounge Furniture Poster Photographed in December 2019
The IAC Building, which is the headquarters for InterAcive Corp, sits on the Hudson River-facing lot on Eleventh Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets. I sometimes pass it when I am gallery hopping and when it is lit up at night it is quite breathtaking to behold.
Besides the fact that the building itself is one of the most gorgeous examples of modern architecture in Manhattan, I am also quite charmed by the block-long series of video screens in the building’s lobby, which are visible from Eleventh Avenue. The visuals change all the time, but on a night last fall I snapped few photos of this pink and green set of abstract images.
When you get up close to the glass, you can see it is imbedded with little black dots, which I imagine help to shade the interior and add a dimension of privacy during the day.
I love this building.
Seen from Eleventh Avenue Looking North in Winter, 2015
Seen from the High Line, Summer 2015
19th Street Side, Late September of 2015
View from 20th Street Looking South, October 2016
Seen from the High Line in March of 2018
Seen from the middle of the Hudson River in July of 2018!