The Art of Seating, 200 Years of American Design

The Ionic Bench by Laurie Beckerman has been selected for the exhibition entitled "The Art of Seating", 200 Years of American Design at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida.

Most chairs encountered throughout the day define themselves fairly simply – a place at the family table, a comfortable spot with a great view of the river, a seat of corporate power. But, when looking at the 40-plus chairs selected for “The Art of Seating:  200  Years of American Design”, there is so much more. These works of art have compelling stories to tell about the evolution of American design, and incredible artistry and craftsmanship.

“The Art of Seating” an exhibition which opens Friday, Jan. 21, at Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art, a cultural resource of the University of North Florida, provides the region with a unique opportunity to see chair types that previously might have been seen only in major Northeast museums or that were withheld from public display in private homes. The American Chair Collection, the center of this exhibition, is an amazing and comprehensive private collection of iconic and historic chairs reaching back from the mid 1800s to pieces from today’s studio movement.

The exhibition also offers a glimpse into the dedication and passion of a private collector who worked with scholars, conservators, photographers and MOCA’s curatorial staff to bring this show together. “The exhibition provides us with an opportunity to see readily recognizable pieces mixed with some gems rarely seen by the public,” said Thomas Serwatka, interim director of MOCA.

“The Art of Seating” takes the viewer into the design studio through patent drawings, documented upholstery, artist renderings and multimedia presentations. Selections from The Jacobsen Collection of American Art offer a stylistic journey in furniture with showstoppers by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, the Herter Brothers, the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Gehry and others waiting to be discovered. The exhibition will also feature contemporary and historic designs by some of the  biggest manufacturers such as Knoll, Herman Miller and Steelcase.

Perhaps the most illustrious piece of history in this collection is that of the House of Representatives Chamber Arm Chair from 1857. Designed by Thomas U. Walter, Architect of the Capitol from 1851 to 1865, the House of Representatives chairs were created to be used in the halls of Congress and were showcased in portraits of political leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson.

January 21, 2011 - April 3, 2011