• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2119

    Contemporary Design

    8 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 7

    SHIRO KURAMATA (1934-1991)


    Price Realised  


    SHIRO KURAMATA (1934-1991)
    An Acrylic and Aluminum Stool with Feathers, designed 1990
    executed by Ishimaru Co., Tokyo, number 31 from the edition of 40
    21¼ in. (54 cm.) high, 13 in. (33 cm.) wide, 16¼ in. (41.5 cm.) deep

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    cf. Shiro Kuramata 1934-1991, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, exhibiton catalogue, Tokyo, 1996, p. 74, no. 29, p. 196, no. 4

    This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Mieko Kuramata.

    Born in 1934, Shiro Kuramata was one of Japan's most distinguished and influential designers of the 20th Century. After studying woodcraft in High School and then a Western style of interior design at the Kuwasawa Institute, he established his own firm in Tokyo in 1965. In the 1970s and 1980s he gained recognition for his numerous furniture designs as well as his many interiors, including a series of highly recognized boutiques for the fashion designer Issey Miyake.

    Kuramata's work reflects the prosperity, intense creativity and groundbreaking technical ingenuity that characterized post-war Japan. With his meticulous craftsmanship and painstaking attention to detail, Kuramata is deeply rooted in centuries old Japanese tradition. However, the surreal and minimalist everyday objects he created belied his own fascination with Western culture and his interest in the minimalist sculptures of Dan Flavin and Donald Judd, Duchamp's Readymades, and the spirited and color crazed work of Kuramata's friend Ettore Sottsass and his Milan based collective, Memphis.

    Kuramata is best known for his poetic, often humorous, designs made from modern industrial materials such as acrylic, glass, aluminum and steel mesh, which appear to break free from the grasp of gravity and transcend to a weightless world of transparency and light. This dissolution of the solid and desire for weightlessness is a central and recurring theme. With his glass chairs that appear to be 'barely there,' his hollow mesh chairs and his clear resin works with floating feathers or flowers - seemingly ephemeral transgressors from our dream states - Kuramata masterfully dissolves the solid and questions our traditional notions of the relationship between form and function.

    The 'Feather Stool' was originally conceived for Spiral, a Tokyo gallery and shopping complex. The feathers captured in the clear acrylic block appear to float weightlessly within the stool, questioning the presence and materiality of the stool itself while also reflecting upon the notion of time; the image of fluttering feathers suggest an object in motion while conversely their suspended nature, a moment frozen in time.

    Other 'Feather Stools' from this edition are in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Montreal, the Denver Art Museum, Denver, the Hara Museum, Tokyo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna.

    Another 'Feather stool' from this edition was included in the exhibition Shiro Kuramata 1934-1991 at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, June - September 1996, which traveled to Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaneo A.C., Mexico City, April - June 1997; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, August - December 1997; Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University, February - May 1998; Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Montreal, Canada, June - September 1998; Musée des Arts D/aecoratifs, Paris, October - December 1998; Österreichisches Museum fur Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, January - March 1999; National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, June - August 1999.


    Private collection, Japan.