José Zanine Caldas - Design New York Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Maria Cecília Loschiavo dos Santos, Móvel Moderno no Brasil, Sao Paulo, 1995, p. 108; Hugo Segawa, Ver Zanine, exh. cat., Centro Cultural Banco Do Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, 2003, p. 34

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the wake of Brazil’s 1964 military coup, Zanine lost his position at the University of Brasilia and considered defecting to Yugoslavia. Politics and persecution aside, the designer remained loyal to his roots—and roots. He didn’t abscond to distant shores, he retreated to his own, to the beach town of Nova Viçosa, where he carved solid furniture from native woods: acajou, vinhático, and pequi. 
    The latter plays a fundamental role in the culture of rural Brazil. Its pulp flavors drinks and rice; its wood holds up houses. An indigenous tree, pequi grows across the vast shrublands of the Cerrado, the world’s richest savanna. In a recent report for the World Rainforest Movement, Soares dos Santos André wrote, “…the pequi does not belong to anyone, because it belongs to all.” How appropriate that Zanine, a confirmed socialist, chose a common wood to build a communal chair.
    The great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who employed Zanine as a model maker, said: “I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible…I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country…” Zanine might have said the same. His early furniture, which he produced for the firm Móveis Artísticos Z, tended to be strict and angular. His later work was more forgiving and ample, the better to draw lovers to its heartwood.   


“Namoradeira” rocker

ca. 1970
Pequi wood.
28 x 39 1/2 x 33 1/4 in. (71.1 x 100.3 x 84.5 cm.)

$15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for $20,000


17 Dec 2008 2pm
New York