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Furniture in the Valley

July 8–July 29, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 8, noon–5pm

For information about available work, info@monteclarkgallery.com.

Monte Clark is pleased to announce Furniture in the Valley, an installation of rare Nordic design pieces and artworks by gallery artists.

Nordic design experienced a golden age between the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by strong functionalist tendencies and a sociopolitical focus. The movement continued to thrive after gaining international recognition at the world fairs in Paris (1937) and New York (1939), propelling Sweden, Finland, and Denmark into the spotlight. The term “Swedish Modern” emerged during these world fairs, representing a softer version of modernism that would define the Golden Age of Nordic Design until the 1970s.

One notable figure in this movement was Axel Einar Hjorth, a Swedish designer who passionately advocated for functionalism in Scandinavia. Hjorth’s creative freedom and relentless pursuit of his ideas resulted in some of the most captivating modernist pieces in the region. In 1929, just two years after becoming the furniture architect for Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), a prestigious Swedish company, Hjorth unveiled the Sportstugemöbler line at an exhibition. These designs blended simplicity, pine construction, and aesthetics inspired by peasant handicraft with international modernism. The Sportstugemöbler line not only showcased Hjorth’s artistic vision but also exhibited his profound influences. For instance, the Lovo pieces (1932), also known as the Brancusi cabinet and table, demonstrated Hjorth’s admiration for the sculptor Constantin Brancusi. Additionally, Hjorth’s designs reflected Swedish society and political life, particularly the emergence of a middle class seeking smaller weekend homes in the archipelago.

The essence of Swedish modernism revolved around a deep appreciation for function, simplicity, and quality. By eliminating the unnecessary, designers created timeless products that remain just as relevant and modern today as they did decades ago. Modern design aligned with the search for new social and political solutions, found popularity among the Swedes. The government embraced the radical ideas of architects like Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, and the Bauhaus movement, recognizing the potential of modernist architecture to address everyday social issues. The concept of beauty in daily life also played a significant role, with Swedish designers aiming to create functional and aesthetically pleasing consumer goods that were affordable for all, promoting a democratic notion of universal access to beauty.

The exhibition’s titled Furniture in the Valley refers to a painting by Italian artist, Giorgio de Chirico. Painted in 1962, Chirico portrays two armchairs facing each other, as if engaged in conversation. The scene is uncanny and dreamlike, further enhanced by the haunting backdrop of ancient ruins from a Roman temple. In this juxtaposition of elements, the painting captures the inherent tensions that exist between the realms of modern and classical design.

Viewers have the freedom to choose their own path through the exhibition, offering multiple routes and various narratives at play through an exploration of scale, texture and material.