Since taking over Freeman's 20th Century Design department in 2015, Tim Andreadis has focused on bringing remarkable works by Pennsylvania icons like George Nakashima, Wharton Esherick, Phillip Lloyd Powell, and Paul Evans to auction. Freeman’s March 19 Craft + Design sale is no exception. The fifty seven lot sale is dominated by Pennsylvania designers George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick, offered alongside iconic works by Pierre Jeanneret for Chandigarh, Poul Kjaerholm, Edward Wormley and others.
Choosing favorites among a sale with outstanding works from such prominent names is no easy task, but here Tim Andreadis names some of what he feels to be the stand-out selections of the March 19 auction.
Wharton Esherick started his artistic career at PAFA, training to become a fine artist in the model of Daniel Garber, Edward Redfield, or Fern Coppedge. Although Esherick’s artistic journey would eventually lead to sculpture and woodworking, painting was a passion. This watercolor is an early work and a rare survivor, completed in 1920 while he and his family were in Fairhope, Alabama. He traveled to the utopian community of Fairhope in 1919 to teach at the School of Organic Education. Esherick’s watercolors from this period use a color-palate he would repeat on subsequent sculpture and furniture commissions. This summer, the Wharton Esherick museum will celebrate the artist’s watercolors in the exhibition Wanderlust: Wharton’s Travels in Watercolor opening June 4.
Fairhope, Alabama Landscape, 1920
Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret collaborated with his cousin Le Corbusier to design Chandigarh, one of the first planned cities in post-independence India. The city remains of vital historical important for its modernist architecture and interiors. This suite of six chairs were designed for the Central Library of Punjab University. They combine Modernist simplicity with European sophistication and would serve any interior as pairs of side or hall chairs, or as a dramatic contrast in a formal dining room.
Set of Six LIbrary Chairs for the Central LIbrary, Punjab University,
Chandigarh, Frace/India, Circa 1959
The Cross-leg is one of the most important designs to emerge as part of George Nakashima’s “Conoid” line, designed in his newly-completed Conoid studio in the late 1950s. Often featured as the base to side tables and desks, the Cross-leg configuration was used less frequently in dining table commissions, making this lot a rare example to incorporate the design. The cross-leg design is one of Nakashima’s most elegant, providing movement and sculptural quality to highlight free-edge slabs of wood.
Fine and Rare Cross-Legged Dining Table, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1960
Like many of the best designers of the 20th century, Italian-born Massimo Vignelli was trained as an architect but worked in interior design, environmental design, package design, graphic design, furniture design, and product design. His use of color and typography, always deliberate, are signature features on his famous New York subway map, and design logos for American Airlines and IBM. Vignelli’s collaboration with the famous Venetian glass house, Venini, began in the 1950s. He injected color into his lighting designs for Venini, creating playful interactions of light that enrich interiors. Vignelli famously remarked, “Without light, everything is lifeless.”
Set of Three Hanging Pendant Lamps, Venini, Italy, Circa 1954
Another architect working at mid-century was Melchiorre Bega. From 1941 to 1944 Bega served as the Director of the influenctial Domus magazine, following fellow Italian architect Gio Ponti. This chair model was originally designed for the Hotel Bristol in Merano before going into serial production and imported to the US. These chairs provide great sculptural interest and give interiors a touch of high Italian style.
Set of Eight Dining Chairs, Italy, Circa 1950
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