SHIRO KURAMATA (1934-1991)
number 22 from an edition of 40, executed by Mihoya Glass Co. Ltd., Japan, glass and Photobond 100 adhesive
34½ in. (90.2 cm.) high, 35½ in. (90.2 cm.) wide, 23½ in. (60 in.) deep

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Lot Essay

cf. 'Il Vetro Incollato', Domus, Italy, no. 572, July, 1977;
M. Uyeda, Shiro Kuramata 1934-1991, Tokyo, 2000, p 42, 43, 149;
G. Marcus, Masters of Modern Design. A Critical Assesment, New York, 2005, p. 154 for an example of this design;
Exhibition catalogue, Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottsass, 21_21 Design Sight Exhibition, Japan, 2010, p. 40 for an example of this design;
D. Sudjic, Shiro Kuramata, London, 2013, essays & writings: cover, pp. 86, 93-94, 211, catalogue of works: p. 297, no. 184 for an example of this model.

Other examples of this chair design were exhibited in Shiro Kuramata: Design as Poetry at the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, October - January 2014; Shiro Kuramata 1934 - 1991 Revolutionary Japanese Designer at the Design Museum Ghent, November 2012 - February 2013; Modern by Design at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, June - August 2011; in the traveling exhibition Shiro Kuramata 1934-1991 at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, June - August 1999, Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, January - March 1999, Musée des Arts Décoratifs of the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, October - December 1997, Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Montreal, Montreal, June - September 1998, Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University, New York, Feburary - May 1998, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, August - December 1997, Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaneo A.C., Mexico City, April - June 1997 and Hara Musuem of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, June - September 1996.

Examples of this chair design are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama City, Japan and the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Kuramata Design Office signed by Mieko Kuramata.

Inspired in part by Stanley Kubrick's 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Shiro Kuramata saw his Glass Chair as a response to his lingering feeling that the furnishings in Kubrick space station were not quite right. Kuramata kept "toying with different images" and has suggested that the 'Glass Chair' was the result of this prolonged consideration.

During Japan's post war period of reconstruction, economic prosperity and cultural evolution, Kuramata was one of a number of artists who synthesized Japanese tradition, newfound technological ingenuity and western influence. Working with modern industrial materials such as acrylic, glass, aluminum and steel mesh, Kuramata created furnishings imbued with fantasy, humor, a grasp of the ephemeral and a seeming ability to transcend gravity. Drawn to the dematerialization of forms and the apparent removal of structure, Kuramata created compelling impressions of absence.

The 'Glass Chair', one of Kuramata's master works, exemplifies this fascination with immateriality and transparency. Employing the revolutionary, new industrial product Photobond 100, which cleanly bonds glass, Kuramata was able to join six sheets of glass without screws, mounts or reinforcements thus eliminating all traces of structure. Formed solely from planes of clear glass (an homage to Piet Mondrian and the De Stijl artists), the chair's solid state seems to dissolve. Almost invisible, these planes, without tangible support, hang in the air.

Vacillating between present and absent, Kuramata's 'Glass Chair' challenges us to place our faith in its immaterial form with its air of unreliability (and small hope of comfort from its unorthodox material). However, once seated, we are liberated from our preconceived ideas of stability and find ourselves pleasantly supported by a paradox.

The 'Glass Chair' was executed by the Mihoya Glass Co. Ltd., Japan, in a limited edition of 40.

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