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  • Provenance

    Robert and Elaine Schlanger, Sarasota, Florida

  • Literature

    Derek E. Ostergard, George Nakashima, Full Circle, exh. cat., American Craft Museum, New York, 1989, p. 122 for a similar example; Mira Nakashima, Nature Form & Spirit The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima, New York, 2003, p. 100 for a similar example

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the latter years of George Nakashima’s career, the highest quality works emerged from his œuvre with the most precisely executed and elaborate pieces, confirming his role as a master craftsman and woodworker.  While the double-pedestal desk design of the present lot was inaugurated circa 1959-1961, this particular example from 1979 is exemplary of his work toward the end of the 1970s.  This was an important period in Nakashima’s work due to his growing reputation.  He was able to acquire better woods with more exotic grains, and focused heavily on the presence of the wood’s natural occlusions and dramatic fissures.  This period also saw the resurrection of his signature butterfly joints which were necessary to balance the splitting of the grain and were also a welcome enhancement to the already profound nature of the design.  The dramatic overhanging top in the present lot with its free-edge surface and exceptionally large fissure is characteristic of his work from this period.  Nakashima’s selection of this board top is indicative of this particularly important stage of his career, and his preoccupation with creating an extraordinary object out of a functional design. 

  • 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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26

Double-pedestal desk

1979
Walnut, one rosewood butterfly key. 
73.7 x 181 x 99.7 cm. (29 x 71 1/4 x 39 1/4 in.)
Underside of top signed in marker ‘SCHLANGER/George Nakashima/May 1979’.

Estimate
£20,000 - 30,000 

Design

25 Sept 2008, 2pm
London