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Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: Designs at the end of the 20th Century

May 14, 2019

As a reaction to the Modernist demands of earlier decades, various design movements of the late 20th and early 21st centuries attempted to unify their craft with the formal qualities of sculpture in order to expose the passivity with which most viewers encountered their medium as well as to redefine their own role as authors of their work. The May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction will highlight Wendell Castle, Maarten Baas, Gaetano Pesce, Thorsten Passfeld, and Peter Shire, each of whom challenged the social regard of their materials.


Wendell Castle, Sleep Time Gal Bed, 1998
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Cited as the father of the American studio furniture movement, Wendell Castle was one of the first and most successful artists to seamlessly blend the aesthetic sensibilities of sculpture with the accessibility of furniture. Through his signature organic forms, the artist “invented his own visual language,” that challenged the predominant modernist insistence that form follow function. Castle distinguished himself from other furniture artisans by pioneering a stack-lamination process that offered a more versatile sculptural canvas. Both Sleepy Time Gal Bed (executed 1998) and Abilene Rocking Chair (executed 2008) exhibit Castle’s dynamic role in shaping the “vocabulary of art furniture.”


Maarten Baas, Clay Fan, executed 2007
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Considered one of the most influential Dutch designers of the 21st century Maarten Baas fabricates objects that complicate the relationship between art and design. Baas’ series of ceramic fans, highlights the sculptural quality of all functional items. Hand-molding clay onto wires frames, Baas renders unique impressions in each work revealing the intimate nature of sculpting, a trait that is often concealed in the mechanical mass-production of everyday forms.


Gaetano Pesce, Door (2), 1991
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Multidisciplinary artist, Gaetano Pesce, began his career as an architect but quickly gravitated to experimentation in a host of media. Realizing the creative limitations of popular applications of Modernism, Pesce sought to use the theoretical tenets of the movement while still leaving room for personal stories in design. Pesce’s ouvre is marked by his outlandish and imaginative uses of of color and space. Known for his use of pliable materials such as poured resin, the artist celebrates the malleability and flexibility of images and visual culture.


Thorsten Passfeld, Stools (Play with the Big), executed 2006
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

German artist, Thorsten Passfeld, creates residential spaces, sculptures and objects that have gained notoriety for their sense of humour witty aesthetic manipulations. Working primarily with wood, which in the artist’s opinion lacks the glamor of other materials, Passfeld sees himself first and foremost as a builder. After having completed several high profile construction projects, Passfeld was asked to created an activation for Art Basel Miami in 2006. The work which he titled Play With The Big consisted of a bar, chairs and tables.


Peter Shire, Teapot, executed 1998
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Preaching the values of absurdism, Peter Shire has constantly returned to the teapot form throughout his career. Having created his first teapot model in 1974, Shire used the shape as an expression of familiarity and a host for a variety of references to his Los Angeles upbringing. Shire’s early iterations of the form caught the attention of Memphis founder Ettore Sottsass, who would brought Shire to Milan to work with the team. Shire’s consistent use of bold color and form continues to reflect the core Memphis mission of “revitalizing” design standards by integrating art and industrial styles.


LOT INFORMATION

Lot 195
Wendell Castle
Sleepy Time Gal bed
Studio, executed 1998
Mahogany, jelutong, and bronze
Signed, titled, and dated
91″ x 109.25″ x 101″; (231 x 277 x 257 cm)
Provenance  Scott Jacobson Gallery, New York, New York; Private Collection, Aspen, Colorado (acquired directly from the above, 1999)
Illustrated  Wendell Castle: A Catalogue Raisonné 1958-2012. E. Eerdmans. 2014. #IV.644.

Estimate: $30,000–50,000
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Lot 196
Wendell Castle
Abilene rocking chair
Studio, executed 2008
#4 of 8
Stainless steel
Signed and dated with edition to underside
30.5″ x 29″ x 52″; (78 x 74 x 132 cm)
Provenance  Barry Friedman, Ltd., New York, New York; Private Collection, Los Angeles, California

Estimate: $40,000–60,000
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Lot 197
Maarten Baas
Clay fan
Den Herder Production House, designed 2007
Enameled synthetic clay over steel frame
Signed and dated “august ‘07” in black felt-tip marker to backside of fan blade; signed with applied metal signature to one leg
83″ x 34.25″ x 26.375″; (211 x 87 x 67 cm)

Estimate: $7,000–10,000
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Lot 230
Gaetano Pesce
Door (Bottle)
Custom designed for TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, 1991
Poured rubber resin with steel frame
98″ x 32.75″; (249 x 83 cm)
Provenance  TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, New York

Estimate: $3,000–5,000
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Lot 231
Gaetano Pesce
Door (Soda can)
Custom designed for TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, 1991
Poured rubber resin with steel frame
86.75″ x 36″; (220 x 91 cm)
Provenance  TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, New York

Estimate: $2,000–3,000
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Lot 189
Thorsten Passfeld
Stools (from Play with the Big) (6)
Atelier, designed 2006
Each: 17.5″ x 13.25″ x 11.5″; (44 x 34 x 29 cm)
Provenance  Art Basel, Miami Beach, Florida; Private Collection, United States (acquired directly from the above, 2006)

Estimate: $2,500–3,500
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

Lot 248
Peter Shire
Teapot
Echo Park Pottery, executed 1998
Glazed ceramic
Signed “EXP” and dated to underside
14″ x 15.25″ x 6.5″; (36 x 39 x 17 cm)

Estimate: $2,000–3,000
May 19, 2019 Modern Art and Design Auction

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