Just In: Sam Maloof Rocking Chair

July 7, 2020

As long as there are men who have not forgotten how to work with their hands there will remain for the heritage of the craftsman a bright light of hope that began at the dawn of civilization.” —Sam Maloof

A true craftsman in every sense of the word, Sam Maloof created furniture with a soul. His pieces straddle function and beauty, always bearing the intrinsic quality of the human touch. It is unlikely that few, if any, any other twentieth-century woodworkers accomplished what Maloof was able to achieve in his lifetime. Among his many accolades, in 1985 Maloof became the first craftsperson to receive a MacArthur Foundation grant — the coveted award had typically been reserved for authors, scholars, and scientists. The “Hemingway of hardwood,” Maloof embraced his work with a discernment for inspired creation versus manufactured ideas and forms. Instead of building standardized furniture for mass consumption, Maloof allowed his vision to evolve on his own terms and created beautifully designed pieces meant to be used.

A leading figure in the postwar American Craft movement, Maloof never wavered from creating custom and strictly limited-edition production pieces. His iconic rocking chairs mirror the aesthetic that pervades all of his work: sensuous curves, elegant artisanry, and a fluid, sculptural quality. Maloof’s 1973 rocking chair, featured in our upcoming July 30-August 9 Modern Art & Design Timed Online Only Auction, is no exception. Created as a commission for the Los Angeles chapter of the Young President’s Organization, it is a sterling example of Maloof’s understated sophistication — and like all Maloof works, it was constructed with innovative joinery and absolutely no nails or metal hardware.

Imbued with presence, the chair reflects Maloof’s unwavering commitment to integrity: “I try to live right. I always try to adhere to what I think is right, and that, to me, is the most important part of creative work. So much of me goes into each piece…[and] in each new piece, a renewal takes place. So it continues: a renewal in my commitment to my work and what I believe.”

Adamson, Jeremy. The Furniture of Sam Maloof. 
Sam Maloof “About”

Sam Maloof
Rocking chair
Studio, executed 1973
Walnut and leather
Retains metal plaque inscribed “YPO/Forty Niner/Lawrence Sades/1973/Los Angeles Chapter” and “designed made/Sam Maloof” brand
46″ x 28″ x 40.5″; (117 x 71 x 103 cm)

Starting in 1969, Maloof was commissioned by the L.A. chapter of the Young President’s Organization to craft rocking chairs for retiring members of the under-fifty business organization.

Literature:The Furniture of Sam Maloof. J. Adamson. 2001. 161 for additional information on the YPO commission.

Estimate: $10,000–$15,000
July 30 – August 9, 2020 Modern Art & Design Timed Online Only Auction

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