Chairs Reimagined: Furniture as Functional Art at The Denver Art Museum

Written by Anthony Arellano

People go to the art museum to see mainly paintings and sculptures. Meanwhile, pieces of art go unnoticed everyday. Furniture is functional art. It is designed by teams of people, revised, scrapped and perfected. The Denver Art Museum decided to shake things up by putting chairs on display.

Curator Darrin Alfred put together a beautiful space of eight chairs by eight different artists. The exhibit is titled “Unseated, Contemporary Chairs Reimagined.”

To further explain the purpose of this exhibit, Paul Smallwood, who is part of the museum protection staff, shared his thoughts.

“The purpose of this exhibit was to show new ways that chairs can be designed,” said Smallwood. “There are some chairs that are made out of concrete, wood and some that are even 3-D printed. One of the chairs being shown is made entirely out of plastic tubing, which I’ve never seen before. The artists wanted to use new technologies and techniques.”

Ron Arad-Rolling Volume 2012_324

Ron Arad (British, born Israel, 1951), Rolling Volume, 1989. Stainless steel and lead. Manufactured by One Off, London. Gift of Robert and Lisa Kessler, 2012.324.

This was true with Scott Bennett’s chair. In 2014, Scott Bennett created an entirely new type of concrete reinforced with carbon fiber. This material offers advantages over glass and steel because the lightweight, strong, and efficient material can be cast very thin. The support for the chair features a cluster of walnut legs, locked in place by a 3-D printed plastic connector. This chair feels very modern and can be seen near the end of the exhibit.

Chair of the Westminster Humanities and Fine Arts Department at Front Range Community College, Heidi Strang, shares the benefits of going to an art museum.

“You get to see the artwork in context,” said Strang. “It is being properly displayed and you can be as close to it as the artist was.”

These benefits ring true when viewing ”Unseated, Contemporary Chairs Reimagined.” A viewer can see above, below and every side of each chair.

In an effort to not spoil the exhibit, only one chair has been focused on. The exhibit is on display until November 19. College students are offered a discount if they show their student ID when buying their ticket.

The Denver Art Museum features a number of exhibits. If furniture is not someone’s interest, they may be excited to see the Asian, Spanish Colonial or European art. There are photography exhibits, as well as paintings and sculptures.

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