George Nakashima - Design New York Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Renée Brandow, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

  • Literature

    Derek E. Ostergard, George Nakashima, Full Circle, exh. cat., American Craft Museum, New York, 1989, p. 165

  • Catalogue Essay

    The following three lots of George Nakashima's work were commissioned for the residence of Renée Brandow in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania in 1987, toward the end of Nakashima’s career.  The specifications included matched English oak burl pieces for each item of furniture, which Nakashima hand-selected.   Though English oak is the species most likely to be burled throughout, each burl is unique, occurring only once in an unrepeatable pattern and to Nakashima, these growths were highly esteemed. 
    “Many nations designate trees like this one as special natural monuments, but perhaps they should go further and call them ‘National Living Treasures.’  These treasures should be cut with reverence when their life span has been fulfilled.  Their aged beauty and great character must be preserved in objects built of their wood to provide a record of their heritage and history.”  (Nakashima, The Soul of a Tree, p. 92)

  • Artist Biography

    George Nakashima

    American • 1905 - 1990

    Working out of his compound in rural New Hope, Pennsylvania, George Nakashima produced some of the most original and influential furniture designs of the post-war era. Nakashima aimed to give trees a second life, choosing solid wood over veneers and designing his furniture to highlight the inherent beauty of the wood, such as the form and grain. To this end, his tables often feature freeform edges, natural fissures and knot holes. Nakashima was an MIT-trained architect and traveled widely in his youth, gaining exposure to modernist design the world over.

    The signature style he developed was the distillation of extraordinary, diverse experiences, which led to the establishment of his furniture-making business in 1946. In particular, his practice of Integral Yoga, which he studied while working under the architect Antonin Raymond on the construction of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India, had a lasting impact on his philosophy as a designer.

    After returning to the U.S. in 1940, Nakashima's family was interned in an American concentration camp, a horrible ordeal that nevertheless introduced him to traditional Japanese joinery by way of a Nisei woodworker he met in the camp. He incorporated these techniques and also drew on American vernacular forms, such as the Windsor chair. These diverse influences have resulted in immense crossover appeal in the world of twentieth-century design collecting.

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Fine “Kornblut” cabinet

Burled English oak, oak.
22 x 18 x 18 in. (55.9 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm)
Interior signed “George Nakashima/Dec 5  1986.”

$35,000 - 45,000 

Sold for $79,000


12 June 2008, 2pm
New York