The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design

June 4 – August 28, 2016

This survey of exceptional chair design explores chairs as art – both functional and sculptural. An array of nineteenth-century to contemporary examples highlights the beauty and historical context of the ubiquitous chair. Evolving trends are reflected in lush textures, sleek lines, and striking colors. Featuring readily recognizable pieces as well as rarely seen antiques, the stylistic journey ranges from designs by John Henry Belter and the Stickley Brothers to Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles and Ray Eames. Contemporary and historic designs by manufacturers Knoll, Herman Miller, and Steelcase also are included. Each chair carries a story about national history and the evolution of American design. Aesthetic trends, social and cultural developments, emerging technology, and ergonomics are woven throughout the narrative.

Exhibition Highlights

Designed by a Shaker for a Community Member, New Lebanon, NY, Rocking Arm Chair, ca. 1840, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn
designed by Thomas E. Warren (active with American Chair Co. 1849-52), manufactured by the American Chair Co., Troy, NY, Centripetal Spring Arm Chair, ca. 1850, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn
Design and Manufacture Attributed to Pottier & Stymus and Company (est. 1859), New York City, Egyptian Revival Side Chair, ca. 1875, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, manufactured by Steelcase Corporation, Grand Rapids, MI, Johnson Wax Company Chair, ca. 1938, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn
Designed by Frank Gehry, manufactured by Easy Edges, Inc., Los Angeles, High Stool, 1971, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn
Designed and manufactured by Kenneth Smythe, Oakland, CA, Synergistic Synthesis XVII sub b1 Chair, 2003, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn

The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, FL, in collaboration with the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.


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