Gunnar Aagaard Andersen

Portrait of My Mother's Chesterfield

Portrait of My Mother’s Chesterfield by Gunnar Aagaard Andersen is a revolutionary work that defies simple classification. An innovation in form and technology, Andersen’s chair explores new materials and challenges preconceived ideas about design. As the title suggests, the work is a reinterpretation of the classic club chair or smoking chair. Made of polyurethane foam, the chair was hand-poured in layers by the artist producing a fluid visual expression with chance playing an important role in determining form. This early chair, one of the first examples in a small edition of unique chairs, exudes the energy of the process of creation.

Though entirely functional and comfortable, the chair’s appearance and its method of creation are not conducive to mass production. Artist made, with no two examples alike, Andersen’s chair is both a corporeal object of art and design. Referred to as “The Anti-Art Chair” or “Anti-Object” by Arthur Drexler, former Director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Andersen’s avant-garde chair is historically significant in early post-war 20th century modernism. The chair’s abstract form is more akin to sculpture and conceptual art and can be placed at the forefront of the Pop Art movement alongside the soft form sculptures by Claes Oldenburg. Further, it predates the Italian radical movement as well as Gaetano Pesce’s work with unconventional materials. By blurring the distinction between art, sculpture, furniture and design, Andersen pioneered new freedoms of expression with Portrait of My Mother’s Chesterfield.

Few examples of Andersen’s avant-garde chair were ever produced and of these, many reside in prominent museum collections including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Montreal Museum of Decorative Art and the Museum of Modern Art in Tel Aviv. The Museum of Modern Art, New York commissioned an example in 1966 for their permanent collection and their chair has been featured in numerous exhibitions and museum publications. Another example, from Liliane and David M. Stewart’s comprehensive collection, was included in the landmark 1991 exhibition What Modern Was. Finally, an example from the collection of the Designmuseum Danmark can currently be found in Vitra Design Museum’s travelling exhibition, Pop Art Design.

This chair, still in white, exhibtied at Det Danske Kunstindustrimuseum in  1964.

This present lot is one of the first examples produced and the artist’s own personal chair. Originally white, this work along with another chair and sofa were first exhibited at Det Danske Kunstindustrimuseum (The Danish Museum of Art & Design) in 1964. Andersen kept this example for his own collection and later painted it brown. (Subsequent works, created upon commission, were made using tinted foam.) This work remained in the family collection until 2008.