George Nakashima - Design New York Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Lucy and Stephen Maxym, Manhasset, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, built in 1973 for Lucy and Stephen Maxym, is among the last commissions George Nakashima completed for the couple.  They first met Nakashima in 1960 at his studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Over the next fourteen years, the Maxyms commissioned works from him for their home in Manhasset, New York.
    Five years prior to their meeting, Lucy Maxym started a business in the trade and importation of antiques and art from Russia and the Far East.  By the time of the present commission, Mrs. Maxym was focusing on Russian icons and lacquer work, of which she was an authority.  In subsequent years, she wrote a number of books on the topic. 

    Reflecting Mrs. Maxym’s interest in Eastern arts, Nakashima sketched the present lot (the original drawing accompanies it) as a low table to be used for the display of her personal collection of Eastern artifacts.

  • 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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Low table

Walnut, one butterfly key. 
8 x 71 5/8 x 23 1/4 in. (20.3 x 181.9 x 59.1 cm.)
Underside signed “Maxim.”  Together with the original drawing.

$25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for $25,000


17 Dec 2008 2pm
New York