On Thursday 16 November, PIASA
will be staging a sale devoted to American Furniture from the 1940s to the 1980s. The rigorously selected works offer a fresh opportunity to explore the wealth of American Craft via iconic works of the New Hope School and its leading figures, such as Paul Evans, George Nakashima or Philip & Kelvin Laverne. The auction will also cast the spotlight on Transatlantic high-end craftsmen or artist cabinet-makers,' led by Tom Tramel, J.B. Blunk and David Ebner.
American Design From Nakashima to Gehry
Sale highlights include an exceptional chaise longue by Franck Gehry, for whom furniture Design was a quick fix' from his architectural practice and a perfect forum for exploring his architectural concepts. His chaise longue shows his over-riding desire to exploit basic but unconventional materials to produce functional and striking objects.
Starting with his earliest designs, Easy Edges (1969-73), Gehry focused on the simplicity of corrugated cardboard a material often used in his architectural models. Experimental Edges (1979-82) was a more radical experiment: pieces in rough-edged cardboard that look improvised. Gehry designed large volumes by manipulating the density of the material and combining sheets of different widths in a single form. For his chaise longue Bubbles, some sheets were deliberately misaligned to create a supple, undulating form.
An important selection of pieces by Paul Evans and George Nakashima, the father of American Craft, are sure to appeal to connoisseurs of exceptional furniture.
Artist Cabinet-Makers' Between Furniture & Sculpture
The 1920s and '30s were marked by industrial furniture production in the United States. Post-war artists brought new energy to Design by refocusing on craftsmen's methods and rejecting mass production, encouraged by the financial prosperity of the time. These artists designed high quality, made-to-measure furniture in their independent workshops, as de luxe American furniture production blossomed.
The artists-designers drew inspiration from the codes of 1960s counter-culture, with its rejection of Modernism as a unique social and cultural model, and disdain for serial production. They were also influenced this applies especially to Tom Tramel and J.B. Blunk by Japan, where craftsmen were ranked on a par with artists.
The sculptor and ceramicist J.B. Blunk is best known for his work with wood and contribution to the California Craft Movement. After the Korean War he settled in Japan and became friends with the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, earning the chance to be the first American to explore the closed world of Japanese ceramics. After returning to the United States at the end of the 1950s Blunk settled in northern California, where he started using local woods and clay. His works have been shown in museums around the world, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., the New York Museum of Arts & Design, the San Francisco Museum of Craft & Design and the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.
The artist/furniture designer Tom Tramel (born 1920) taught at the California State University and helped launch the Art Department at the Northridge campus in the 1950s. For thirty years he was a prolific designer and participant in exhibitions. His unclassifiable works, blending power and finesse, are to be found in the prestigious collections of a number of American museums and foundations.