Was Rietveld's furniture expensive when it was first produced? What kinds of people had access to buy it?
It was definitely an avant-garde style, and a very utopian one. Architects and designers were seeking ways to renew society after the first World War. In other words, it wasn't a style to everyone's taste. It was highly non-traditional, with its use of primary colors and its simple, visible means of construction.
He made many pieces for himself and his close acquaintances, knowing that it would only have a small audience because it was so experimental.
That answers my question, thanks. I was interested in whether a general audience could access these items, or if they were more people in the movement.
Some of his colleagues were more interested in sharing their work with a wider market but Rietveld was very much in an inner circle by the 1920s and was experimenting within that group.
Did the collective De Stijl embrace practicality at all? I find furniture an unusual/interesting medium for a movement concerned with reduction and transformation. What were they hoping to achieve with furniture as a medium?
Interesting thoughts! This in particular
is certainly more of an art piece than a comfort piece of furniture. The yellow that you see is meant to symbolize cut wood, for example. The avoidance of natural forms emphasizes the man-made nature of the chair rather than physical comfort.
Were the artists involved in De Stijl in opposition to nature at all? Are there any manifestos, etc. from the movement?
There was a publication called "de Stijl" that presented their ideas and works. The group was influenced by DaDa which abandoned traditional forms in art.
Thanks! I'll have to read some snippets from those. Was the movement exclusively Dutch?
You're welcome! The group certainly began as a Dutch group, but their sentiments were eventually adopted by artists of other nationalities and the publication included non-Dutch artists as well. It was the first journal devoted to abstraction in art.
This "Sansa Chair" by Cheick Diallo takes a mix of traditional and contemporary ideas about chairs as leisure objects or symbols of status. Did you have a particular thought or question about it?
Hi Megan, can you talk more about the materials of this chair?
Hey there! Sure so the chair itself, the inner structure, is made from steel. The steel was then wrapped in the red nylon you see.
I see. I love the aspect of a "grid", the geometric forms.
Me too! I am always so tempted to sit in it! The Arts of Africa curator was able to sit in one of Diallo's chairs once, he said they're comfortable for a few minutes and then not so much, haha.
I feel the same every time I see chair like this one. Haha for example, the Red and Blue Chair, by Gerrit Rietveld. I love the colors, the lines and everything, but it seems a little uncomfortable, I wish I could sit on it one day!
I so agree! It's funny how over time the creation of chairs moved from very practical and uncomfortable in the 1600s, to extremely tufted and full of fabric in the 1800s and then more 'modern' designers, like Rietveld, seem so much less interested in comfort. We have a Rietveld chair on display on the 4th floor.
I like this one. It doesn't look comfortable, but I would buy it.
That chair is amazing. It comes from a modernist artistic movement called De Stijl.
De Stijl? What does that mean?
It means "the style" in Dutch and was a popular movement in the 1920s and 1930s.
These artists were interested in exploring basic geometry and primary colors. You can see that in the chair, which has a lot of rectangles and very specific use of color.
I was wondering if you know why your Rietveld armchair has no blue and is instead all red on both its back and bottom?
From our notes on the chair, it looks as if there are traces of blue paint underneath the black. So there was once more blue than we can see today. When the chair was first designed in 1918, it was only varnished and wasn't colored at all; it wasn't until around 1923 that they began to be painted. It was never mass-produced, so variations exist.
My favorite painter is Piet Mondrian. Do you have any similar paintings to recommend?
This is not a painting, but: there are a chair and wheelbarrow designed by De Stijl artist Gerrit Rietveld on the 4th floor. Mondrian was also a member of the De Stijl group and you can really see the similarity in Rietveld's furniture.
Cool...I'll check that out. Thanks!
We decided it might be the world's most uncomfortable chair.
It could be! Comfort did not really factor into Rietveld's design! He was interested in designing for the mind, rather than the body. This is an example of the “aesthetically purified” forms that artists in his circle were interested in creating. Also, he hoped for the chair to be mass-produced and designed it to be simple and easy to produce.
Haha yeah, I guess that makes sense.
What is the translation of De Stijl?
De Stijl translates to "The Style" in Dutch.
Thought so, just didn't want to assume it. Thanks! I love this chair.
What is this?
This chair was designed by Gerrit Rietveld when he was part of the "De Stijl" movement. Rietveld purposely chose commercially available, standard pieces of lumber His goal was to create functional pieces that could easily be mass-produced (although this chair never was).
Tell me more.
This chair was revolutionary when it was designed around 1917! Its designer, Gerrit Rietveld was a member of the short-lived, but influential De Stijl group of Dutch artists and designers.
De Stijl was active in the Netherlands between the World Wars and their style emphasized the abstract, the avant-garde, and reductivist--as seen in the simple, geometric lines of this chair!