TAPIO WIRKKALA (1915-1985)
TAPIO WIRKKALA (1915-1985)
TAPIO WIRKKALA (1915-1985)
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TAPIO WIRKKALA (1915-1985)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
TAPIO WIRKKALA (1915-1985)

A Monumental Prototype 'Leaf'

TAPIO WIRKKALA (1915-1985)
A Monumental Prototype 'Leaf'
executed by KOE, Finland, birch-laminated plywood, ebonised wood, with later floor stand and optional wall bracket, painted tubular metal, painted metal
incised 'KOE/II' (on the reverse)
Leaf 52 ¼ high x 24 wide x 1 ¼ in. thick (133 x 61 x 3 cm.)
68 ½ in. high including floor stand (174 cm.)

Designed and executed in 1952.

Soinne et Kni, Finland.
Private Collection, Finland.
From where acquired by the present owner.
Example of table variant illustrated:
Domus, no. 284, July 1953.
M. Aav, Tapio Wirkkala: eye, hand and thought, exh. cat., Helsinki, Museum of Art and Design, 2000, p. 280, pl. 473.

Examples of other sculptures illustrated:
M. Aav, Tapio Wirkkala: eye, hand and thought, exh. cat., Helsinki, Museum of Art and Design, 2000, pp. 224-231, 236-243.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at Christies.com/storage and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Christie’s Park Royal. All collections from Christie’s Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: cscollectionsuk@christies.com. If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

Brought to you by

Jeremy Morrison
Jeremy Morrison

Lot Essay

As Finland’s most versatile designer of the post-war period, Wirkkala initially achieved prominence for his glass designs, winning first prize in the 1946 Iittala glass competition. These prolific and influential glass forms attracted immediate international acclaim, and in 1951 he was awarded the Lunning Prize, and took three Grand Prizes at the IX Milan Triennale, having also designed the national pavillion. The persistent themes influencing Wirkkala’s designs included natural forms such as mushrooms, leaf-forms, melting ice, or else invoked a strong sense of national identity through reference to Finnish folklore and the frozen landscapes of Lapland. Included in Wirkkala’s display for the 1951 Triennale, was what proved to be amongst the first of his sculptural creations in laminated woods, developed at the Soinne Oy plywood factory – originally a manufacturer of aircraft propellors. These shallow leaf-shaped bowls and platters celebrated the decorative rhythmic properties of plywood when cross-cut and polished, to reveal a synthesis of craftsmanship and modern engineering. Further accolades for these plywood forms swiftly followed, and that same year the leaf platter was praised as the winner of American magazine House Beautiful’s ‘The Most Beautiful Object of 1951’. With momentum building for the appreciation of Wirkkala’s plywood designs further international exhibitions followed, to include three group exhibitions at MoMA 1952-1954. One of these MoMA exhibitions, Recent Acquisitions 1946-1953, revealed objects that transcended the boundaries between art and design, offering Wirkkala’s plywood leaf alongside a chess set designed by Man Ray, a vestment by Matisse, and a lounge chair by Mies van der Rohe, within a minimalist installation designed by Philip Johnson.

The present work is an important and experimental example of Wirkkala’s rigorous investigations of the leaf-form, communicated
through his chosen medium of plywood, and here rendered on a massive, totemic scale. Crucially, this work was executed during the essential period of the early 1950s when the designer was being welcomed internationally by museums and manufacturers alike, and
was the recipient of numerous accolades for precisely this medium and motif. Parallel to these technical and stylistic investigations, Wirkkala explored the possibility of their translation into domestic products, including furniture. Consequently, a variation of this over-sized leafform sculpture was inverted, laid horizontally, and applied to a stylised bird-shaped base to create a series of occasional tables, these being published alongside other experimental creations in Domus, 1952. Throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s Wirkkala persevered with this preferred medium to deliver works of increasingly complex and abstract stature, culminating in the massive four by nine metre Ultima Thule carved plywood frieze created for the Finnish section of the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair.

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