Published: March 11, 2016
RICHMOND, VA. — The newest addition to the Virginia Historical Society’s (VHS) selection of special exhibitions, “The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design,” is on view through April 17. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville and the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen PhD Foundation, “Art of Seating” presents a survey of fine American chair designs from the early Nineteenth Century to the present.
The chair is experienced here not only as a functional item but also as art. The exhibition features 43 chairs chosen for their beauty and historical context with important social, economic, political and cultural influences. Selections from the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen PhD Foundation join contemporary showstoppers by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, Herter Brothers, Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray and Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Frank Gehry.
As an essential aspect of the domestic dynamic of everyday living, chairs play an underrated role in the understanding of the world’s history. The chairs in this exhibit are as diverse and distinctive as the eras in which they were produced. As different as they may be, they share characteristics that inform the viewer about life in America.
“We look forward to discovering what visitors to the museum will be able to learn from this show about life and tastes in America — throughout the 1800s and the World War I era, as well as the decades in which we and our parents have lived,” said William Rasmussen, lead curator for the society.
“Visitors will enjoy seeing the chairs…and they will make connections between design and the culture of an era. In some cases the aesthetic is a reflection of a time period, in others it is equally a reaction to social change,” said Paul Levengood, president and CEO of the VHS. “As years pass and society departs further from great moments in American history, we come to depend on objects such as chairs that were also present, to continue sharing history and discussion.”
The Virginia Historical Society is at 428 North Boulevard. For information, 804-358-4901 or www.vahistorical.org.
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