International Decorative Art

Red / Blue Armchair

Red / Blue Armchair

Design Date 1918/1923

Designer Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964, Dutch)

Manufacturer Gerard van de Groenekan, de Bilt, Netherlands

Media beech wood and plywood with ebony lacquer and aniline stains

Dimensions 34 1/8 x 26 x 32 1/4 inches

Rietveld was inspired by the rigid straight-backed chairs designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, though his Red/Blue chair has no historical precedent. The separate pieces of the chair seem to float independent of one another, especially the two planks forming the seat and the back, which cross but do not touch. The rectangles of primary colors (a De Stijl characteristic) also seem to float against the black-painted wood. This harmonious form created by autonomous parts was Rietveld’s goal and is an integral element of De Stijl theory. The emphasis on the relationship between the straight vertical and horizontal lines of the chair is another characteristic of De Stijl art and design. Though its design is rigid, sources say it is not uncomfortable. Rietveld hoped that the simple rectangular wood pieces and planks of the Red/Blue chair would allow it to be cheaply manufactured by machine for mass consumption, freeing the craftsman from manual labor. He subscribed to De Stijl founder Theo van Doesburg’s theory that “craftsmanship humiliates man by reducing him to the function of a machine, while the right use of the machine represents the only way of achieving the contrary effect: social emancipation.” This specific chair, manufactured about 1960, was made and owned by Gerard van de Groenekan (1904–1994), the builder of most of Rietveld’s furniture.

ON VIEW in Bauhaus Gallery 5

Markings Bottom branded, "H.G.M. / G.A.v.d. GROENEKAN / DE BILT NEDERLAND

Credit Line Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number 2013.0749