Postmodernism

Phillips will feature works by design masters spanning the 20th and 21st centuries

Joris Laarman | “Bone” chair, 2006 | Estimate: $500,000 – $700,000
Courtesy of Phillips

Phillips will feature works by design masters Between 20th and 21st centuries

Sale on June 7 at Feature Works by Alberto Giacometti, François-Xavier Lalanne, Joris Laarman, Shiro Kuramata, Harry Bertoia and Ron Arad

NEW YORK – MAY 25, 2022 – Phillips is pleased to announce highlights from the upcoming New York Design Auction. Taking place on June 7, the sale will showcase important works by modern and contemporary creators who define the collectors category, including Alberto Giacometti, François-Xavier Lalanne, Joris Laarman, Shiro Kuramata, Harry Bertoia and Ron Arad. The sale will be followed by the previously announced sale on June 8, Contemporary studio artwork from the Estate of Jack R. Bershad. The full press release for this sale can be read here.

Cordelia Lembo, Head of Design, New York, said, “We are delighted to wrap up the spring design auction season at Phillips by presenting such a remarkable body of work. From the ceramics of Georges Jouve and Doyle Lane to the iconic Joris Laarman Bone chair, to rare and important works by Gustave Miklos and Alberto Giacometti, this auction offers a varied and edited selection of 20th and 21st century design, craftsmanship and sculpture.

by Joris Laarman Bone chair leads the sale. Using data-driven modeling software that simulates the natural growth patterns of bones and trees, this heavy-duty chair was designed to use a minimal amount of material. Since its inception in 2006, it has become an icon of 21st century design, cementing Laarman’s reputation as one of today’s most innovative designers. Other examples of Bone are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht and the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, among others.

Shiro Kuramata is widely admired for his ability to free his creations from gravity and use materials in ways that defy convention. Kuramata discovered design during his stay at the Teikoku Kizai furniture factory in Arakawa-ku in 1954. In 1965, at the age of 31, he opened his own company: Kuramata Design Office. His dynamic use of materials, especially those that were transparent, the combination of surfaces and the awareness of the potential of light in design led him to create objects that stretched structural boundaries and were also visually captivating. One of Kuramata’s most famous chairs, Miss Blanche (designed in 1988), was directly inspired by the protagonist of Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Miss Blanche was produced in an edition of 56, one for each year of Kuramata’s life.

Alberto Giacometti | Pair of rare “Hand Holding a Cup” sconces, circa 1931 | Estimate: $200,000 – 300,000
Courtesy of Phillips

Wall lights by Alberto Giacometti are also among the highlights of the auction. Before devoting himself to figurative bronze portraits, Giacometti enjoyed a productive tenure as a designer, creating expressive objects for utilitarian use. He designed the current lot, as well as several other home accessories and furnishings, in partnership with renowned French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank. A staple among the Surrealists, Giacometti drew inspiration from leitmotifs of the movement, employing fragmentation and iconography in his work. This lot represents the eponymous fist holding an applique in the precarious grip of the fingertips.

Francois Xavier Lalanne stone sheep represents an important work in the work of the artist work, a fantastic menagerie of creatures. Most art historians and critics often cite Surrealism as Lalanne’s primary creative influence; however, the original series title, Pour Polytheme (For Polytheme), is a reference to Homer Odyssey. The Cyclops Polythemus imprisons Odysseus and his compatriots, who escape their captivity by clinging to the belly of the monster’s giant sheep. This vignette in the epic poem was a favorite subject among Baroque painters and the subject matter is likely a reference to Lalanne’s tenure as a security guard at the Louvre, where he encountered ancient Assyrian and Egyptian sculptures of fauna. Lalanne first crafted his sheep from bronze and wool, creating a flocculant first generation of sheep. In 1979, he created a flock that can be exhibited outside. Lalanne continued to make closed editions of epoxy sheep for display outdoors, perhaps in recognition of their pastoral origins. the stone sheep takes up Lalanne’s verve, the title translating to “Sheep of Stone” in English, an eponym dedicated to the medium.

Shiro Kuramata | “Miss Blanche” chair, designed in 1988, executed before 1991 | Estimate: $250,000 – 350,000
Courtesy of Phillips

A famous innovator of postmodern design, Ron Arad’s work has seen renewed interest among the next generation of collectors, as evidenced by his spectacular Prototype “D-Sofawhich sold for £1.2million at last year’s Phillips’ London Design sale. Arad is often credited with bringing the field firmly into the 21st century and using advanced technology and new materials to experiment with furniture making. The result was a playful resurrection of expressionism, with unexpected lines and volumes rendered in materials such as polyurethane, carbon, and weathered and suspended steel. the BOOP (blown out of proportion) vase offered at the June auction fully embodies this innovative spirit. Produced in 1998 in collaboration with the Blown out of proportion (BOOP) collection, Arad used superplastic aluminum, a new medium at the time, which allowed for extreme contortions and hollows, due to its fine-grained nature. To create the vase, Arad heated aluminum and inflated it through a stencil, forming the series’ characteristic balloon indentations. The current vase is the first and greatest work of the BOP series and was exhibited at the critically acclaimed exhibitionRon Arad: No disciplineat the Museum of Modern Art in 2009.

Also included in the sale are four Harry Bertoia sonambientsthree suspended gongs and a pair of Edge bars which were personally gifted by the artist to the young experimental composer and musician David Moss during their friendship, beginning in the early 1970s. In the early 1960s, Bertoia moved away from furniture design and began to focus on more sculptural works. His exploration of sound sculpture, a process he called ‘Sonambient’, added a new dimension to his mastery of materials. These bold and dynamic sculptures ranged from a few centimeters to twenty feet high. Bertoia and Moss developed a bond, experimenting and testing the limits of music and sound.