Poul Kjærholm - Design London Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Christoffer Harlang, Keld Helmer-Petersen and Krestine Kjærholm, Poul Kjærholm, Copenhagen, 1999, pp. 30-31 and 120-121; Michael Sheridan, The Furniture of Poul Kjærholm: Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 2007, pp. 146-149

  • Catalogue Essay

    With few exceptions, Poul Kjærholm numbered his chairs and tables. He rarely named them. This simple approach was not for want of imagination; Kjærholm reduced his compositions to bare facts: modular seats and tables in steel or wood; natural materials such as leather, cane, cord, and stone. In Kjærholm’s catalogue raisonnée, Michael Sheridan wrote of the Danish designer’s early experimental years: “…the recurring palette of black, white, and primary colors, inspired by the work of Gerrit Rietveld and the De Stijl painters, underscored his ambition to create elemental objects devoid of traditional references.” Beyond color (which he largely abandoned by the mid-1950s), Kjærholm emulated Rietveld’s celebration of pure construction and order, his “expressive purification”, to borrow from Daniele Baroni. In Kjærholm’s furniture, as in Rietveld’s, constituent elements—seats, backrests, stretchers—maintain their individuality; together they compose.
    In December 1965, Kjærholm opened ‘Structures’, a now famous exhibition of disassembled furniture at the Ole Palsby showroom in Copenhagen. A single dismembered PK12 armchair underscored individual elements; a tipped stack of PK22 frames stressed industrial repetition; the laminated arc of a PK11 armrest celebrated handcraft. In a 1963 interview in Spatium, Kjærholm discussed the role artwork plays in a room: “The photograph lives its own life, but must naturally fit in with the whole we envision.” He might have been enumerating a broader theory of balanced space and construction. The present lot is a triumph of equilibrium, a “ribbed diaphragm” of leather counters the outward forces exerted by the two spring steel supports when under pressure. Sheridan wrote, “Kjærholm’s sculptural treatment of steel reached its zenith in 1968 with the cantilevered lounge chair PK20…” But PK20 is more than steel: it is leather, steel, and sitter. The three, like independent clauses in a compound sentence, form a clear and forceful grammar.
    The low-back version of the PK 20, sixteen centimeters shorter than the present lot, is in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.


Lounge chair, model no. PK 20

c. 1969
Matt chrome-plated steel, leather.
90.2 cm. (35 1/2 in.) high
Manufactured by E. Kold Christensen, Denmark. Base impressed with manufacturer’s mark. 

£10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for £22,500


30 Apr 2009, 2pm