Just In: A Frank Gehry Chair Comes Full Circle

March 2, 2020

In the world of auctions, encountering a work for the second time can be like meeting an old friend after many years apart. Just in to the LAMA showroom is a very special “Grandpa Beaver” chair designed by the legendary architect Frank Gehry — the very same chair that was among the 136 lots featured in LAMA’s first-ever auction on October 10, 1992. Much to LAMA’s delight, the chair will be featured in our upcoming Spring Modern Art & Design Auction and its return offers a poignant opportunity to reflect on just how much LAMA — and Los Angeles art and design — have evolved over the past two decades.

Frank Gehry, Grandpa Beaver armchair
Lot 131 in LAMA’s October 10, 1992 20th Century Decorative Arts Auction

Best known for his singular architectural style, the LA-based Gehry has become synonymous with the city’s built environment. Awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1989, the jury noted that Gehry’s “highly refined, sophisticated, and adventurous aesthetic” arose directly from a “populist Southern California perspective.”

Embodying this signature innovative blend of elegance and playful accessibility, Gehry’s “Grandpa Beaver” chair reimagined the dignity of cardboard long before “upcycling” became a thing. Made from sculpted layers of corrugated cardboard, the lightweight chair is an experiment in using non-traditional materials to create a functional object. With a deliberately jagged look, the work belongs to the series “Experimental Edges,” produced between 1979 and 1982 as Gehry’s second collection of cardboard furniture. At once irreverent and distinguished, it is an excellent encapsulation of Gehry’s approach to design.

Offered for the first time since the auction in 1992, LAMA director Peter Loughrey notes, “It is rare to find an example like this coming up for sale for the second time, but even rarer is this example that has been in archival storage for most of its life, giving it an almost new appearance. Quite a feat for a paper chair.”

Experimental Edges Beaver Chair & Ottoman.” Art Institute of Chicago.
Frank Gehry.” Los Angeles Conservancy.
Frank O. Gehry.” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,


Frank Gehry
Grandpa Beaver armchair (from Experimental Edges), executed 1987
#12 of 50
New City Editions, Venice
Corrugated cardboard
Titled with edition to underside
35″ x 46″ x 42″

Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000
Summer 2020 Modern Art & Design Auction

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