Poul Henningsen - Design Masters New York Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Scala cinema and concert hall, Århus Theater, Århus, Denmark; Dansk Møbelkunst, Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Literature

    Tina Jørstian and Poul Eric Munk Nielsen, Light Years Ahead, The Story of the PH Lamp, Copenhagen, 1994, p. 268 for a period illustration

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot is one of 26 original double-spiral wall lights designed by Poul Henningsen in 1955 for the Scala cinema and concert hall, one of five performance spaces within the Århus Theater. An extensive renovation in 1981 dramatically reduced the size of the Scala, during which time 12 lights were de-accessioned. The other 14 remain in situ.
    The curve of a spiral constantly recedes from, and constantly approaches, a fixed point. Opening and closing, it represents the beginning and the end of all motion. A primeval motif in art as in life, the spiral has festooned our walls and pots for as long as we’ve built them. Repeating or “running” spirals have been carved, cast, or painted on megalithic entry stones at Newgrange and on the sides of Shang bronze vessels; on Mesopotamian cylinder seals and on black-figure Attic ware, curling under Heracles’ fleet foot. More than mere decoration, they seem to reference a stronger light, the absolute magnitude of our sun. Danish architect Poul Henningsen, bright star of 20th-century lighting design, was devoted to radiating forms. The curved and cut-cone shades of his famous PH lamps, layered around central bulbs, directed light downward while reducing glare, as did the offset shades of his large “Artichoke” ceiling lights. Fibonacci numbers hide in the leaves of artichoke bulbs, and therefore spirals do too. But Henningsen could be more literal than that; his “Spiral” pendant lights, designed in 1942 for Århus University, unwind like the peeled rinds of monumental fruit. Across town he installed the present lot, one of twenty-six wall-mounted fixtures for the Scala cinema and concert hall, located within the Århus Theater. Henningsen’s double-spirals ran down the walls of the amphitheater as they descended toward the proscenium. One can imagine they cast more drama than any emanating from the stage.



Exceptional large wall light, for the Scala cinema and concert hall, Århus Theater, Århus, Denmark

Aluminum, painted aluminum, brass.
33 1/2 × 75 × 10 5/8 in. (85 × 190.5 × 27.2 cm.)

$70,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $212,500

Design Masters

15 December 2010
New York