James Prestini - Design New York Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of the artist; Private Collection, Los Angeles, California; Wright, Important 20th Century Design, December 4, 2005, Lot 209

  • Exhibited

    School of Design, Chicago, 1942

  • Literature

    Peter Han and Lloyd C. Engelbrecht, 50 Jahre Bauhaus Nachfolge: New Bauhaus in Chicago, exh. cat., Bauhaus-Archiv, Museum fur Gestaltung, Berlin, 1987, p. 200

  • Catalogue Essay

    The son of Italian immigrants from Westerly, Rhode Island, James Prestini caught a lucky break in the 1920s when he caddied for Thomas Watson, founder of I.B.M. Watson’s largesse allowed the teenager to attend Yale University, where he graduated in 1930 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Prestini spent the Depression as a math teacher at Lake Forest Academy, north of Chicago. Piqued by the school’s woodworking shop, Prestini taught himself—and shortly thereafter students—to turn wood as thinly as blown glass. Edgar Kaufman Jr., exhibiting Prestini’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in 1949, wrote: “He has made grand things that are not overwhelming, beautiful things that are not personal unveilings, and simple things that do not urge usefulness to excuse their simplicity.”  
    Prestini built the present table while he was an instructor at László Moholy-Nagy’s School of Design, now the Illinois Institute of Technology.


Rare experimental table

Molded birch plywood.
20 x 32 x 32 in. (50.8 x 81.3 x 81.3 cm.)

$10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for $20,000


9 June 2010
New York