Shiro Kuramata - Design New York Wednesday, July 29, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Paul Hughes Fine Arts, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Shiro Kuramata 1934-1991, exh. cat., Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1996, pp. 30, 67, 192
    Yasuko Seki, ed., Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottsass, exh. cat., 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo, 2001, p. 201
    Deyan Sudjic, Shiro Kuramata: Essays & Writings, London, 2013, pp. 76, 99
    Deyan Sudjic, Shiro Kuramata: Catalogue of Works, London, 2013, p. 369

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Cabinet de Curiosité was part of a group of colored acrylic furniture and objects in which Kuramata explored concepts of color and transparency. These designs invite unlimited visual contemplation, testing spatial and temporal boundaries as they contort color, line, and form. This effect is achieved through a number of optical contrasts: the borders are simultaneously discrete and interactive, the minimal physical footprint is disputed by the broad expanse of colored light reflected onto the cabinet’s surroundings. The name itself, Cabinet de Curiosité, poses a comprehensive challenge as it evokes a repository of tangible historic objects rather than the acute sense of negative space suggested by its actual material presence. This cognitive contrast of historicism versus timelessness was a post-modernist tool often employed by Kuramata and revealed with subtle mastery in the present lot.

  • Artist Biography

    Shiro Kuramata

    Japanese • 1934 - 1991

    Shiro Kuramata is widely admired for his ability to free his designs from gravity and use materials in ways that defied convention. After a restless childhood, his ideas of being an illustrator having been discouraged, Kuramata discovered design during his time at the Teikoku Kizai Furniture Factory in Arakawa-ku in 1954. The next year he started formal training at the Department of Interior Design at the Kuwasawa Design Institute. His early work centered on commercial interiors and window displays. In 1965, at the age of 31, he opened his own firm: Kuramata Design Office.

    Throughout his career he found inspiration in many places, including the work of Italian designers (particularly those embodying the Memphis style) and American conceptual artists like Donald Judd, and combined such inspirations with his own ingenuity and creativity. His dynamic use of materials, particularly those that were transparent, combination of surfaces and awareness of the potential of light in design led him to create objects that stretched structural boundaries and were also visually captivating. These qualities are embodied in his famous Glass Chair (1976).

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“Cabinet de Curiosité”

Perspex acrylic.
75 x 18 1/4 x 18 1/4 in. (190.5 x 46.4 x 46.4 cm)
Manufactured by Ishimaru Co., Tokyo, Japan. Number 30 from the edition of 40. Together with a certificate of authenticity from Mieko Kuramata.

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $32,500

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New York Auction 29 July 2020