Between all chairs

Exhibition at Ammann Gallery, Cologne, Germany, until 3 June 2016.

June 2016
For the 10th anniversary of her gallery, Gabrielle Ammann, owner of the eponymous Ammann Gallery in Cologne, has brought together chairs by a diversity of artists and designers as a way of “connecting the dots” about the history of her programme. The exhibition is meant to be a “visual statement” about the interdependency between the disciplines of architecture, design and art.
The most historic piece on display is Richard Artschwager's Chair (1965-2000) – an illusory acrylic sculpture featuring a black-and-white photograph of chair which the American artist regarded as a three-dimensional chair picture. Next is Alessandro Mendini's Poltrona di Proust (Proust Chair), 1979, for Alchimia from the Bauhaus Collection. After researching Proust's visual and material world, Mendini based his design on a ready-made, a replica of an 18th-century armchair, and picked a detail from a Paul Signac painting for the pattern that covers not just the fabric but the wooden parts, with the aim of “dissolving its shape into a kind of nebula”, Mendini has written.
“My career in the art/design field started when I first met Studio Alchimia in Milano at the end of the 1980s,” explains Gabrielle Ammann. “From there I got introduced to all the important protagonists of the scene like Ron Arad, with whom I still cooperate today and whose unique No Void makes out of a chaise longue a pure sculpture.”
There are two pieces by Arad in the show: No Void (2006), in mirror-polished and woven aluminium, and the bright red Acrylic Oh Void (2006-2008). While Arad radically reinterprets the chaise longue, a new piece by Nucleo (the art-design collective founded by Piergiorgio Robino) is Souvenir Thonet Chair (2016), which has one of Thonet's wooden chairs encased in epoxy resin like a relic.
Also on view are Rolf Sachs' No Rest for the Rust Chair (2006) – a Corten steel chair that has a plank of steel replacing the front two legs, and Florian Borkenhagen's Weltenbrüterstuhl (2015), which has a glass globe replacing the seat – rendering the chair impossible to sit on. Indeed, such pieces that take the archetype of a chair as the basis for an artwork exemplify the interface of art and design.