RIETVELD. Daniele Baroni: THE FURNITURE OF GERRIT THOMAS RIETVELD. Woodbury, NY: Barron’s, 1978.

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 THE FURNITURE OF GERRIT THOMAS RIETVELD

Daniele Baroni

Daniele Baroni, Filippo Alison [foreword]: THE FURNITURE OF GERRIT THOMAS RIETVELD. Woodbury, NY: Barron's, 1978. First English edition. Originally published by Gruppo Editoriale Electa S.p.A., Milan, 1977. Square quarto. Black fabricoid titled in white. Photo illustrated dust jacket. 178 pp. Fully illustrated in black and white with some color plates. Architectural historian’s bookplate to front free endpaper.  Interior unmarked and very clean. Out-of-print. Jaclet slightly nicked along top edges, otherwise a fine copy in a nearly fine dust jacket: scarce in this condition.

9.75 x 9 hardcover book with 178 pages and approx. 250 black and white and color illustrations. A comprehensive examination of Rietveld's approach to furniture design and the cultural and historical contect for such designs.  Foreword by Filippo Alison.   Includes the Early Years, Military Series, Single-Sheet Chair, The "Poor Art" object, Curved Metal Tubing, Reinvented Object. Neoplastic Style, etc.

  • Foreword by Filippo Alison
  • Explanatory Note
  • Introduction: Analysis of the Neoplastic Style
  • Premise
  • The Early Years
  • A Repetitive Structural Node: The Reinvented Object
  • Related Experiments
  • The “Military Series”
  • Structural Affinity Between Objects And Environment
  • Contamination With Metal: The Use Of Curved Metal Tubing In Furniture
  • The Single-Sheet Chair
  • Verticals + Horizontals + Obliques = A New Chair
  • The “Poor Art” Object
  • International Recognition
  • Exhibitions Referred to in the Notes To The Plates
  • Bibliography
  • Photographic Credits

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888 – 1964) seems possessed of two personalities, each so distinct that one might take his work to be that of more than one artist. The first personality is that seen in the craftsman cabinet-maker working in a primordial idiom, re-inventing chairs and other furniture as if no one had ever built them before him and following a structural code all of his own; the second is that of the architect working with elegant formulas, determined to drive home the rationalist and neoplastic message in the context of European architecture. The two activities alternate, overlap, and fuse in a perfect osmosis unfolding then into a logical sequence.

In 1918 Rietveld joined the “De Stijl” movement which had sprung up around the review of that name founded the year before by Theo van Doesburg. The group assimilated and translated into ideology certain laws on the dynamic breakdown of compositions (carrying them to an extreme) that had already been expressed in painting by the cubists: the “De Stijl” artists also carefully studied the architectonic lesson taught by the great Frank Lloyd Wright, whose influence was widely felt in Europe at that time.

Collaborating first with Robert van’t Hoff and Vilmos Huszar, then with Theo van Doesburg and Cornelius van Eesteren, Rietveld soon became one of the most distinguished interpreters of the neoplastic message. Rietveld broke with the 'De Stijl' movement in 1928 and switched to the Nieuwe Zakelijkheid. The same year he joined the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne.

Among his most important works are: the Schröder house at Utrecht (1924, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000); the “Row Houses” at Utrecht (1931-34); the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennial (1954); the sculpture pavilion in the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller at Otterloo and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (1955). His furniture designs include the Red and Blue Chair (1917), the Dining Chair (1919), Chair for P. J. Elling (1920), the Cartridge (1922-24), the Schröder 1 (1923), the Wheelbarrow (1923), the Berlin Chair (1923), a Stool for children (1923), aDivan Table (1923), a Flat Stool (1923-24), aChair (1926), aMusic stand (1927), the Armchair for A. M. Hartog (1927), a Tubular Chair (1927), the Wouter Paap Armchair (1928-30), and the Zig-Zag Chair (1932-34).

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