Artwork of the month August

Rita McBride, Chair (Smoked), 2003

Rita McBride

* 1960 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA lives in Düsseldorf, Germany

Chair (Smoked), 2003

Murano glass, plastic wrap
90 x 42 x 53cm

Ed. 3/3

Formally, Rita McBride's Chair (Smoked) borrows from the traditional form of the world's first industrially manufactured seat – the No. 14 chair manufactured by Michael Thonet in different variations with the aid of a new steam-bending technique at the end of the 19th century, that has meanwhile sold in millions. By using screws instead of gluing, the usual method at that time, although extremely time-consuming, it was possible to manufacture large quantities of separate elements, that were then shipped and assembled on site. With its simple, aesthetically pleasing design, the classic Viennese bistro chair is thus regarded as a precursor of series production of seat furniture, later embodying a modern mass-produced article.

Instead of the sturdy, durable bentwood, the American artist uses the precious Murano glass, hand crafted in a time-consuming process, for her Chair. At those places where the industrial model is usually screwed together, the separate transparent components are joined with commercial plastic wrap – as is used to secure freight on planes, for example. In terms of appearance, these equally transparent fastenings are reminiscent of protective bandages on injured body parts.

With her choice of material, the fragile assembly, and by leaving out the seat, the artist deprives the object of its cultural function. The object becomes a singular sculpture, whose formal composition interrogates the levels of historical, social and cultural meaning of the specific item of seat furniture. What promises, for example, were inspired in us by the (aesthetic) visions of enlightening modernism and in what forms are they realised today?

In her artistic oeuvre Rita McBride draws in many different ways on the culturally entrenched vocabulary of form of everyday objects. She analyses architectural elements and their functionally and emotionally charged compositions, questioning their inherent aspects by means of formal shifts.

Denise Rigaud

<b>Rita McBride, Chair (Smoked), 2003</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.