Metal furniture is "styleless" for it is not expected to express anything beyond its purpose. Since the outside world today subjects us to the most intense and diverse impressions, furnishings and spaces [must be] alterable, mobile, and variously combinable. Metal furniture is a necessary apparatus for contemporary life.

Marcel Breuer

Shown below is a variation of Breuer's B5 chair, produced by Thonet for the Société des Artistes décorateurs exhibition in Paris in 1930. It marked the first time in twenty years that Germany was invited to this high-profile exhibition at the Grand Palais. The overall presentation, Life in a High-Rise, was designed by Walter Gropius and featured Germany's radical new modernism, including Breuer's space-saving and lightweight steel-tubular furniture. The design below shares details with the present lot, in its stabilizing cross-bar, sturdy canvas, the curved lip at the top of the backrest and its elegant, efficient form.

Photograph reproduced from Marcel Breuer by Droste, Ludewig and Bauhaus Archiv.

Marcel Breuer 1902–1981

Marcel Breuer’s parents encouraged their children to take interest in culture and the arts from an early age, and when the Hungarian born designer turned eighteen he secured a scholarship to the prestigious Fine Arts Academy in Vienna. Uninterested in the lengthy discussions about aesthetic tradition and eager for a more practical education, he took a job in an architectural firm. When a friend told him about a new art school in Weimar Germany called the Bauhaus, Breuer promptly enrolled. Under the guidance of director Walter Gropius, Breuer became one of six apprentices to join the furniture workshop, producing his earliest known design in 1921, the African Chair. Breuer graduated in 1924 and after a brief time in Paris, returned to the school as the head of the of the carpentry worship in 1925. Inspired by his first bicycle, Breuer began working on designs for a chair made of tubular steel. The revolutionary steel club armchair, known as the Wassily, remains one of his most well-known designs to date.

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Auction Results Marcel Breuer