Joaquim Tenreiro - Design New York Saturday, November 14, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    R 20th Century, New York

  • Literature

    Soraia Cals, Tenreiro, Rio de Janeiro, 2000, front and back covers and pp. 6-7, 56-57 and 76-77; “Money in Miami,” Azure, March 2006, p. 109; Aric Chen, “Natural Wonders,” Art + Auction, April 2006, pp. 123-124

  • Catalogue Essay

    Forty years before the widespread use of AutoCAD and other computer-aided design programs, Joaquim Tenreiro built his "Three-Legged Chair" (1947), a paragon of fluidity and dynamic expression in wood. Stripped of appendages, horizontal rails, and right angles—impediments to the eye—Tenreiro’s cupped seat opens like a parabolic curve in space, suggesting infinite motion. The chair’s complex construction transcended conventional methods of joinery and anticipated by a half century the stack-laminated chairs of Julia Krantz and the bonded plywood furniture of contemporary designers like Jeroen Verhoeven. The woodworking son of a woodworker, Tenreiro championed the use of native Brazilian hardwoods, which he combined to expressive effect. In the present lot, his alternation of light and dark specimens further speeds the eye. Comprising solid stacked sections, not veneers applied to a frame, "Three-Legged Chair" triumphantly realizes the modernist maxim that decoration must be intrinsic to form. But Tenreiro’s fluent seat sweeps away the rigid profiles of those icons preceding it: Le Corbusier’s crimped chaise and Alvar Aalto’s molded seat sections. Why summon those spirits? Tenreiro modulated the austere rationalism of European modernism with vernacular Brazilian woodworking traditions and so revitalized his country’s regressive furniture industry. “I have always been restless. What I did was reformulate the dimensions of Brazilian furniture, because it was really uncomfortable. I have defended craftsmanship with all my heart, against the kind of industrialization that debased furniture" (Soraia Cals, Tenreiro, Rio de Janeiro, 1998, p. 32).


“Three-Legged Chair”

ca. 1947
Jacaranda, imbuia, ivorywood, cabreúva.
29 1/4 in. (74.3 cm.) high
Produced by Tenreiro Móveis e Decorações, Brazil.  Underside with paper label “Tenreiro Móveis e Decorações" and several paper postage stamps.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $80,500


14 Nov 2009
New York