November 2004

Alphonse Mattia's whimsical "Points of Reference: Atlas, Webster & Roget, 1995" combines painted Baltic birch plywood and various hardwoods with glass and gold leaf.>

America's Studio Furniture Treasures

Attesting to the prestige being accorded to studio furniture, several pieces are put on a dedicated exhibit at the venerable Smithsonian Institute.

By Lisa Whitcomb

For the furniture connoisseur, viewing the Smithsonian American Art museum's "Right at Home: American Studio Furniture" collection is excitingly fresh to the palette. The exhibit, which appeals to the aspiring collector, is showcased in the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC, and features 58 objects by 47 artists, including both functional and purely sculptural pieces. The museum is dedicated to exhibiting American crafts from the 19th to the 21st century.

"The museum continues to acquire new and groundbreaking works for the Renwick's collection from across the nation that capture the creativity in the field of studio furniture," says Elizabeth Broun, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Made of Baltic birch plywood, maple, poplar and aniline dye, this interesting "Chaise Marlin,1999" chair was created by John Cederquist.>

Most of the one-of-a-kind, custom pieces on display have been created since 1990. The furniture pieces were created in small shops. The "value" of each piece is not based on its functionality, but rather on its artist's conceptual approach to design and construction.

The museum's Office of Public Affairs says, "Several different approaches appear in these artworks, including new classicism, where several pieces manifest purity of form and classic finishes; pure form, which becomes the major focus of the artist; Scandinavian modern, with clean lines and simple shapes taken from nature; color, in which the artist experiments with unusual finishes; metal, where furniture is cast out of non-wood material; and sculpture, where furniture forms inspire the exploration of structure and content."

Opened April 2, 2004, the exhibit is slated to run through Jan. 17, 2005. For more information, visit Pictured are some of the unique pieces on display.

"Low-Back Side Chair, 1995" was fabricated by Sam Maloof and is made with Ziricote.>
Michael Hurwitz fabricated this "Rocking Chaise, 1989" using mahogany, steel and milk paint.>
The festive-looking "Four by Four, 1994" by Tom Loeser is made from mahogany, with acrylic and milk paint.>



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