What is a chair? More than 300 designers, architects, and furniture makers from around the world attempted to answer that question when they submitted chairs to an exhibition sponsored by The Architectural League of New York in 1986. Made from all manners of materials–steel, fabric, wood, plastic, aluminum, fiberglass–and running from serious solitary utilitarian seats to whimsical models, the range and variety of the designer’s answers, all 397 of them illustrated here, are truly stunning.
Opening with American critic and philosopher Arthur C. Danto’s essay “The Seat of the Sole”, this handsomely designed volume, printed and bound in Japan, features an incredible photographic survey of eclectic chairs from the early 1980s. Amongst them appears Mario Bellini, Enzo Mari, Phillipe Starck, Vignelli designs, Michael Graves, Herman Miller, Ward Bennett, Stomu Miyazaki, Alan Buchsbaum, Knoll, Michele De Lucchi, Marco Zanini, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Emilio Ambasz, Kazuo Kawasaki, Richard Meier, Herbert and Jutta Ohl, Simon Desanta, Vitra Seating, Shigeru Uchida, Giancarlo Piretti, Thonet Industries, Memphis Milano, Hartmut Lohmeyer, to name but a few.
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- 397 Chairs
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The irony and antic sense of humor that animate the work of H. C. Westermann (1922–1981) and make it so accessible are evident on every page of this volume, the first comprehensive study of the artist in over 20 years. Published on the occasion of a traveling exhibition of Westermann’s sculpture, the book looks at how defining themes central to 20th-century America—the horror and disillusionment of war, the mythology of the American utopia, and Hollywood and mass media—shaped his thought and his art.
Magnificent color illustrations accompany essays by Robert Storr, who evaluates Westermann in the context of 20th-century art; Lynne Warren, who looks at his years in Chicago in the 1950s; Dennis Adrian, a longtime friend, who surveys the artist’s entire oeuvre; and Michael Rooks, who examines his most elaborate achievement, the house and studio in Connecticut that the artist designed and built by hand from 1969 to 1981.
H. C. Westermann (Horace Clifford “Cliff” Westermann) (11 December 1922 – 3 November 1981) was an American printmaker and sculptor whose art constituted a scathing commentary on militarism and materialism. His sculptures frequently incorporated traditional carpentry and marquetry techniques. Westermann resisted providing interpretation of his works of art. In one interview, when asked what an object meant, Westermann replied “It puzzles me too.”
In 1967, he was one of the celebrities featured on the cover of the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
In 1978 he was given a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
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- H.C. Westermann
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