Sori Yanagi / Tendo Co. Ltd. / Japanese Crafts “Butterfly” Stool c.1956
Sori Yanagi (1915-2012), Japan
Tendo Co. Ltd., Japan
Butterfly stool, 1956.
Bleached rosewood veneer on plywood with brass.
H: 15” x W: 16 ½” x D: 12”
This model can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
The Japanese designer Sori Yanagi is best known for his 1956 Butterfly Stool. It is both elegant and utterly simple: two curved pieces of molded plywood are held together through compression and tension by a single brass rod. The stool’s graceful shape recalls a butterfly’s wings, and has also been compared to the form of torii, the traditional Shinto shrine gates. He loved traditional Japanese crafts and was dedicated to the modernist principles of simplicity, practicality and tactility that are associated with Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, and Le Corbusier.”
Yanagi, who studied architecture and art at Tokyo’s Academy of Fine Art, was inspired by the work of Le Corbusier and by the designer Charlotte Perriand, with whom he worked in the early 1940s, while she was in Tokyo as the arts and crafts adviser to the Japanese Board of Trade. But perhaps the most indelible influence on Yanagi was that of his father, Soetsu Yanagi, who led the “mingei” movement, which celebrated Japanese folk craft and the beauty of everyday objects, and who founded the Nihon Mingeikan (or Japanese Folk Crafts Museum) in Tokyo. Yanagi fils, who was named director of the museum in 1977, succinctly described his design aesthetic in a 2002 interview in The Japan Times: “I try to create things that we human beings feel are useful in our daily lives. During the process, beauty is born naturally.” Throughout his life, Sori Yanagi was inspired by what he called “anonymous design” — he cited the Jeep and a baseball glove as two examples — and he in turn inspired younger designers, like Naoto Fukasawa, Tom Dixon and Jasper Morrison.
Wilhelm Schmidt / Prag Rudnicker Vienna Secession / Arts & Crafts stool c. 1902
WILHELM SCHMIDT (b. 1880) Austria
PRAG-RUDNICKER KORBWAREN-FABRIKATION Austria
Vienna arts & crafts stool c. 1902
Illustrated: Das Interieure III “Wiener Kunst im Hause Exhibition”, Wien, 1902, p. 169; Prag-Rudnicker Korbwaren-Fabrikation Catalog, 1902/1903, No. 508. Korbmöbel, Eva B. Ottillinger (Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 1990) p. 106, illus. no. 99, Moderne Vergangenheit Wien 1800-1900 (Vienna: Künstlerhaus, 1981) p. 271;
H: 19 1/2″ x W: 19″ x D: 17 5/8″
Wilhelm Schmidt was one of a number of avant-garde designers, along with M.H. Baillie Scott, Peter Behrens, and Henry van de Velde, who incorporated the traditional material of rattan, or wicker, into their furniture designs during the early part of the century. For this stool, the Viennese designer used rattan in the much same way that a furniture maker of his day would have used upholstery on seating furniture. It provides a supportive, yet yielding and therefore comfortable seat.
Benin King Oba bronze standing figure, African, Nigeria, 20th Century
Benin King Oba bronze standing figure, Nigeria, 20th Century
Lost wax cast bronze with a verdigris patina and a desert sand surface highlighting a rich brown patina.
H: 15″ x D: 4 1/2″ x W: 4 1/2″
The art of Benin is the product of an urban royal court, and is meant to symbolize and to extol the power, mystique, grandeur, continuity, and endurance of the ruling dynasty and its governing institutions. From the 14th century until its fall in 1897, Benin was ruled by the Oba, a divine ruler at the head of the political system of titled chiefs. Under royal support, a number of craftsman’s guilds produced bronze, brass, and wood sculptures and embroidered cloth, all of which have become prized by museums and collectors.