September 17, 2008

Two High Chairs, Both Alike In Uncomfortableness: Piet Klaarhamer's Rietveldian High Chair

In fair Utrecht where we lay our scene...

klaarhamer_high_chair_tt.jpg

I'm trying to clear the deck of reproductions of painful-looking De Stijl high chairs here. In 2005, Treadway-Toomey sold this high chair for $1,200. It's by Piet Klaarhamer, a "later production of a 1918 design," by Houtbedrijf Veldzicht [Wood Industry or Woodworkers Veldzicht, maybe?] "signed with stamped mark" and everything, so presumably it's not a misattribution.

Because that chair sure looks a lot like [one of] Gerrit Rietveld's high chairs of the exact same era According to his Dutch Wikipedia page, Klaarhamer was Rietveld's teacher for more than eight years and introduced him to international modernist design trends. Though who got involved first in the hometown favorites of De Stijl is not clear. Until I hear from someone who's been through the Rietveld archives of the Centraalmuseum, I'll just assume that in Utrecht in the teens, De Stijl was The Style, and everyone knew it.

Lot 884. Piet Klaarhamer high chair, est 1200-1500, sold for $1200, Sept. 2005 [treadwaygallery.com]

2 Comments

Just some notes on the text about the Rietveld High Chair.

It is not a klaarhamer but a Rietveld chair, but made by Ritveld while working for the KLaarhamer firm, which had the copyright then. So, this is how the name of klaarhamer is connected to this. Houtbedrijf Veldzicht, does not have any reference to furniture production, but is a lumber business. The high-chair was not published in DE STijL magazine until 1923, but was first produced by RIETVELD in 1919.
If you read up on the DE STYLE movement, you will find the names of Mondriaan, Rietveld and others directly associated with the Movement. Klinkhamer was NOT part of this. Can I advise you not to use Wikipedia (in any language) as a reliable source, IT IS FULL OF INCORRECT INFORMATION. In stead get some good books out of the library on the Style movement or on Rietveld himslef and you will be a better informed person.

I assume you're not a native English speaker, and that you missed some details for what I wrote about the chair. The Klaarhamer credit and the Houtbedrijf Veldzicht reference are from the stamp on the bottom of the chair, as described by the auction house.

As for Wikipedia, because the English Rietveld entry and Dutch Klaarhamer entry seemed incompatible, the only information I cited was that Rietveld worked for Klaarhamer near the time this chair was made. This point is, of course, correct.

In other posts, like the one linked below, I cited authoritative reference catalogues of Rietveld's work. While it might be ideal to visit libraries all day researching ancient children's furniture, I have a job and two kids, so it will remain a dream for now. I did email the Centraalmuseum, but they had no information at all about this Klaarhamer/Rietveld chair. So you know more than the experts, though you don't provide the source of your information.

Finally if this high chair was published in De Stijl in 1923, that's wonderful, but Rietveld's first design in the journal was in 1919, a different high chair.

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