In addition to the challenges posed by lockdowns and social distancing guidelines, Kirkland Museum experienced additional difficulties when a pipe burst in February, flooding the Olson Kundig-designed building and forcing the museum to close for restoration. Fortunately, much of the damage was limited to building finishes rather than Vance Kirkland’s Historic Studio & Art School Building or the some 30,000 pieces that comprise the Kirkland’s collection. After performing repairs to all three levels, including replacing drywall and refinishing the floors, the museum is back to pre-flood conditions and ready to welcome visitors once again.
The Kirkland’s galleries, which are organized both chronologically by design movement and by geography, are full of visual delights for both new and returning visitors alike. Among some of the newer additions now on display are a 1971 Vance Kirkland painting titled “Four Suns in Space” located at the end of the promenade, a new acquisition by artist and sculptor Roger Reutimann, and well as several other pieces that are on display from the museum’s collection for the first time.
Concurrent with the re-opening is the launch of Kirkland Museum’s newest temporary exhibition, “Truth, Beauty and Power: Christopher Dresser and The Aesthetic Movement,” which will run through January. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a beautiful five-legged chair that the museum was recently able to attribute to British designer Christopher Dresser. “The chair was always intriguing, lovely, and extraordinarily good design, and is only enhanced by this connection to one of the central designers of the era,” says Associate Museum Director Renée Albiston.
In honor of The Aesthetic Side Chair and its convention-breaking five legs, we’ve rounded up five other more modern chairs at the Kirkland that throw the four-leg blueprint out the window:
Rife with postmodern reactionism, the Getsuen (Lily) Chair was designed by Masanori Umeda, a member of Memphis design movement in Milan. The flower shape and vibrant color were an attempt to reconnect design with nature after a period of post-war industrialization.
Made of laminated sheets of corrugated cardboard, the Easy Edges line of furniture from esteemed architect Frank Gehry takes advantage of the pliability of the material to form its signature “wiggle.” The original series was only produced for four years before Gehry ceased production, fearing Easy Edges would eclipse his architectural work.
Finnish designer Eero Aarino has designed many iconic chairs, but he got more philosophical with the creation of Pony in 1973. He has been quoted as saying, “A chair is a chair, is a chair…but a seat does not necessarily have to be a chair. It can be anything as long as it is ergonomically correct.” Bright orange upholstery covers the metal and molded foam base of the Kirkland’s Pony Chair, adding to its whimsy.
Buena Vista-based industrial designer Michael McCoy translated the architectural element of a door into a folding chair for his 1980 aptly named Door Chair. One of only ten made, the geometric chair was a contrast to the more practical furniture McCoy created in his career, like Knoll’s award-winning Bulldog Chair.
If you saw the Arvada Center’s 2017 exhibition in SITu, you may have seen this bright green delight by Swiss-American sculptor Roger Reutimann before. For the exhibition, IKEA gifted the Arvada Center 50 simple chairs which were given to various artists to reimagine however they desired. Marilyn Chair was auctioned off after the show closed and bought by Jason Lee Gimbel, who recently gifted it to Kirkland Museum.