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Fantasy Furniture: A Gift Collection of Judith & Bruce Newman

DATES September 24, 1992 through September 25, 1998
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
  • July 1, 1992 A longterm installation of whimsical and unusual furniture is scheduled to go on view at The Brooklyn Museum on September 24, 1992, in the Decorative Arts Galleries on the fourth floor. Entitled Fantasy Furniture: The Bruce and Judith Newman Gift, the installation will present 14 pieces of furniture that reflect the proliferation of fantastic forms in nineteenth-century design. Although the furniture varies widely in its place of manufacture, in its material, and in its source of inspiration, it all reflects the common desire of its craftsmen and designers to push the boundaries of the ordinary.

    Myth and fantasy have always found expression in the arts, but fantasy furniture particularly flourished in the nineteenth century, at a time when artists and designers were mining the past and searching the globe for artistic inspiration.

    Some of the pieces in the installation, like the late nineteenth-century Japanese Kuhn & Komor Desk, blur the lines between furniture, architecture, and landscape, and others, like the late nineteenth-century Smoking Stand (Germany) made of deer antlers, draw on unusual materials used in a novel way. Also included is a German Pedestal (wood, circa 1890) that features a beast, at once terrifying and humorous in its deformity, that has been tamed and offers with its mouth a surface for flowers or calling cards; a Swiss wooden Bench (late nineteenth or early twentieth century) held up with carved bears, frozen in their pose, offering the visitor a seat, while at the same time providing an ominous welcome; and a Plant Stand (French, late nineteenth century) made of wicker, which, because it is easily pliable, provides a mechanical flexibility that makes it a perfect medium for the imagination unleashed.

    This installation is made possible by the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce M. Newman.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 07-12/1992, 110-111.
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