Modernist 20th Century /06 June 2004

335

James Prestini

bowl
USA, 1950
turned and lacquered birch
13¼ w × 4¼ h in (34 × 11 cm)

An exceptional example of Prestini's art. Branded signature.

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $4,130

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James Prestini 1908–1993

James Prestini is recognized for elevating the craft of turned wood to an art form through his innovative use of the medium. Prestini was born in Waterford, Connecticut in 1908 and had an illustrious career as an engineer, sculptor, professor and woodworker. He studied mechanical engineering at Yale University and went on to get his masters from the Yale School of Education in 1932. The following year, while teaching mathematics at a boys academy in Lake Forest, Illinois, Prestini began creating turnwood bowls and plates in rich hardwoods, working from the Bauhaus ethos of blending craft and function. These works were brilliantly thin and fine in their craftsmanship and graceful in their design, taking on the artistic qualities of glass and ceramics. Prestini also designed furniture and was part of the team that won the 1948 furniture competition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York with a jointless chair made from durable wood pulp. As a professor of design at the University of California, Berkeley from 1956 to 1975, Prestini began creating modernist sculptures in metal that were also influenced by the Bauhaus aesthetic. Prestini’s exquisite works are held widely in collections that include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the Berlin Bauhaus-Archiv. 

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