Michael Samuels Turns Mid-Century Furniture into Abstract Sculpture
Installation view of "Parlour," courtesy of ROKEBY
Modernist design, now often referred to as mid-century modern, has an aesthetic history that is still alive in the memories of the baby boom generation. The modernist aesthetic is everywhere, although it is now generally severed from the ideological foundation from which it arose. How, then, to respond to the defining cultural force of the 20th century at a time where its legacy is both everywhere and slipping out of reach?
Rokeby, titled “Parlour.” Slender strips of material from a single table top made by the British furniture manufacturer form geometric compositions in two wooden screens situated near the entrance to the gallery. Other works combine furniture fragments with soft grey concrete and Scandinavian glass vases in a contemporary take on bricolage.
Samuels reconfigures iconic furniture from the era into new forms, which are themselves unmistakably modernist in their aesthetic. His works constitute gentle challenges to one of modernism’s fundamental precepts: functionalism. The more two dimensional pieces on view exhibit reference the clean, precise geometry associated with
In “Parlour,” a seating area furnished with period furniture transplanted from the artist’s studio provides a place to reflect on the work whilst leafing through a collection of carefully chosen art and design books on the likes of