The Collection of Ardelle and Arthur Smilowitz
The following twenty-two lots represent a selection from the Collection of Ardelle and Arthur Smilowitz. Sharing an eye for design, color, and talent, Ardelle and Arthur spent decades curating a fabulous collection that includes American midcentury design through contemporary works. Masterfully curated, the collection is a testament to their deep appreciation for quality, craftsmanship and materials
The collection demonstrates a pioneering vision of modern design and it attests to their exemplary stewardship and the relationships they cultivated with the artists they collected including Harry Bertoia and Ka-Kwong Hui among others. The Smilowitz family established a particularly strong connection with the renowned woodworker George Nakashima and visited him often at his New Hope studio and campus. The works by Nakashima offered here represent some of his earliest works to appear at auction; dating from 1957 onward, these designs pair an extraordinary wood selection with remarkably intricate handmade detailing.
George Nakashima 1905 – 1990
George Nakashima was born in Spokane, Washington in 1905. He attended the University of Washington where he excelled in architecture courses and was awarded a scholarship to study at the Ecole Americaine des Beaux-Arts in Fontainebleau. Nakashima completed his master’s degree from MIT
in 1930, and worked for a brief time as a mural painter before losing his job during the depression. Nakashima sold his car, moved to Paris and then to Tokyo in 1934. In Japan, he worked at the architectural firm of Antonin Raymond where he was exposed to the Japanese folk art tradition. In 1937, Nakashima traveled to India to supervise the construction of Golconde, a dormitory for Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
Nakashima returned to the United States settling in Seattle, Washington where he worked for an architect and constructed his first furniture designs in the basement of a local Boys Club. During World War II, he and his family were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Idaho. Antonin Raymond petitioned for and attained their release under the condition that Nakashima would work on his farm in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Relocated, Nakashima began making furniture again. He produced a line for Knoll in 1946 and designed the Origins line for Widdicomb in 1957, but it is his studio works and important commissioned forms for which he is most admired.