Hans Coray's Landi chair was first introduced at the 1939 Swiss National Exhibition or Landesausstellung, which was affectionately shortened to Landi. 

Attendees seated on Landi chairs along the bank of Lake Zürich during the 1939 Swiss National Exhibition. © Hans Baumgartner / Fotostiftung Schweiz

Curatorial Alchemy

Our paths first crossed, unknown until many years later, at an intimate yet bustling wedding reception in a south Chicago apartment. This was probably 30 years ago, perhaps even the same year a new gallery, Torno Wright, opened at the end of my street to a fanfare of Eames, heralding new changes to come. Criss-crossing breezes of chance encounters, meandering spirits, hazy focus of time and space, of enthusiasm and knowledge sought, now united again in the same city.

That same serendipity, prompting impulse and discovery, guided welcome reward in the crucible of that great industrial city, still littered with the artefacts of the American mid-century. It was within this uneven yet fertile terrain, hidden slightly below surface, that Patrick’s intuitive talent—honed first as photographer then embellished as artist—would treasure the valuable neglected as passionate collector, and then as the inspirational dealer that I was to meet again, years later in New York City.

If asked to select one word to describe Patrick, I would resist and pick two. The first would be curiosity—a fundamental essential, to stimulate inquiry and rigour in all things, both great and small, of any era or region, type or surface. Even the most fleeting survey of this selection for sale is a celebration of innovation and of inspiration—an unerring eye for the unusually exceptional, or perhaps the exceptionally unusual. The chances are, that these are indeed discoveries that you have not yet realized that you needed to make.

Mentor, would be my second word. If artefacts and objects articulate visual, cultural and historic language, then the fluency of skillful mentorship—to guide, nurture, describe and explain—releases the eloquence of murmuring histories. In this capacity Patrick is that most earnest and sincere of excellent narrators. If ever I had friends, clients or colleagues visiting New York looking for unusual inspiration, there was always the certainty that Patrick’s gallery would offer them a glimpse of the hitherto unseen or the unusually seductive, always with the reassurance of the most fascinating story waiting to be told.

Mentorship and curiosity, when balanced in equal measure, reveal the precious alchemy of a curator. And it is the duty of the mature curator to discern and detect, to cultivate change, and from there to pioneer, and to share. Innovation is never static, and the Present is already the Future. Fresh dialogs evolve, energies to be nurtured, opportunities to be guided. Renewed and re-orientated, Patrick now faces fully forward—as benefactor, interlocutor and mentor to a new, inquisitive generation of talented creators, and the quest for discovery rejuvenates.

— Simon Andrews

Hans Coray 1906–1991

Hans Coray was born in Zürich in 1906 and studied romance languages, receiving his doctorate in the field in 1929. Coray was also interested in arts and design and established himself the following year as a furniture designer in Zürich. He is most famous for his 1938 Landi chair, an all-aluminum stacking chair that debuted as the official seating for the grounds at the Swiss National Exhibition of 1939. Landi was the first design of Coray’s to be put into production, after he had spent much of the 1930s experimenting with the use of sheet metal and industrial processes of production.

Coray was also associated with the Art Concret movement, founded by Theo van Doesburg in 1930 and continued after his death in 1931 by artists such as Hans Fischli and Max Bill. Art Concret focused on art being universal, anti-impressionistic and without “lyricism, drama, symbolism and so on.” These maxims guided Coray in creating works of collective appeal, functionality and simplicity. In the 1950s, Coray returned to figurative art and passed away in 1991 in his native Zürich.