Artist: Atelier Van Lieshout
Title: Flatpack (concrete) Limited edition of 8 plus 4 AP
Dimension: 73.5 x 125 x 85.5 cm
Technique: Concrete, steel.
About the artist:
Atelier Van Lieshout is the name Joep gave to his studio in 1995.
Identifying himself as a sculptor, Joep studied at the Rotterdam Academy of the Arts. Fame came swiftly after graduating with the production of functional sculptures.
The fact of signing his creations under this name is a consequence of his decision of “undermining the myth of the artistic genius” on one side and on the other recognizing his work is the outcome of the collaboration of a team working with him, a collective one may say.
His creations have found expression in different areas: sculpture and installations, buildings and furniture.
In his own words his “works have in common a number of recurring themes, motives and obsessions: systems, power, autarky, life, sex, death. The human individual in the face of a greater whole”
The Atelier has exhibited in Moma, New York; Hayward Gallery in London and the Centre George Pompedou in Paris among other spaces and galleries.
What “Flatpack” is saying?
The first question I hear you asking is “what?, is this armchair art?”
We usually accept special pieces of furniture to fall within the categories of antiques or design pieces but we do not see them as “art items”.
They have value to us because they are the representation of the craftsmanship, ideology or a specific aesthetic proposition of a period in particular.
This judgment is or should be based in research, comparison, detailed analysis of the piece, etc.
Now how a furniture created and made in 2016 (2 years ago) already receives the endorsement of being a collectable piece by itself aspiring to be an artistic proposal in its own right?
This phenomenon started a while ago, I would say early XX Century, when it was accepted that the artistic creation does not limit itself to the production of paintings and sculptures as we usually would understand it.
The need of self expression of artists and creators on one side and the desire of a specific sector of the population to have exclusive, unique and artistic pieces within their functional furniture developed a market where functional pieces created by artists have a high economic value determined by its high aesthetic value.
But who determines what constitutes a high aesthetic value in the XXI century?
The answer lies in experts, galleries, museums and speculators.
Being the pieces so new they lack the weight that time offers for confirming their social, political or artistic relevance.
So people take the risk; a risk that can be a controlled one if an accurate research is done about who designed that object, why and what it represents.
This is what the “flatpack” chair is telling besides its playful proposal in the use of materials and its not that playful statement on the conventions of how a sophisticated chair should be or made of.
Is it art? Is it consistent with the artist creation and his proposals? Is it beautiful? Does it represent how we see and enjoy domestic life in the XXI century? And if yes who does it represent?
In what Room to place it?
The answer is clear: in any room. Don’t you think?
Now with this kind of pieces you decide if you are going to use them or just display them. I would not go for the second alternative but I would limit its use so to preserve the integrity of the piece as long as possible.