The Ulmer Hocker is one of the best-known creations of the Swiss architect and artist Max Bill. In 1954, the chair was designed at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm in collaboration with the Dutch architect Hans Gugelot. Formally, the Ulmer Hocker corresponds to the traditional stool used to hang up wallpaper. The frame consists of three boards. The seat and both side walls are made of spruce wood, the crossbar of beech wood. All wooden surfaces are uncoated. The Ulmer Hocker has many different functions, for example as seating furniture, a side table, a lectern, or as part of a shelf. At the university, the stool was part of every seminar, dining, and living room and therefore became its symbol.
In the early 1970s, Alighiero Boetti joined the Arte Povera, an art movement that focused on experimenting with ordinary and everyday materials. At the same time, Boetti developed a special interest in oriental culture and travelled regularly to Afghanistan, where he had his famous embroidery pictures made. The production of these embroideries continued until his death in 1994.
From 1945, the Greek architect and designer Georges Candilis worked in Le Corbusier's studio, whereupon important collaborations were realised. Together with the Finnish designer Anja Blomstedt, a collection was created under the name Sentou. The robust furniture was intended to be easy to dismantle and transport. Candilis' aim was always to adapt his designs to the social and economic conditions of the disadvantaged population and to place the human being at the centre. "The respect has no formula, no recipe. It is the feeling that architects have to possess with their customers; if the construction can give material satisfactions, the architecture has to bring something furthermore: the dignity and the freedom."
The sculpture Luke by the British sculptor Tony Cragg is part of the group of works called Rational Beings – column-like structures that have a figurative and geometric character at the same time. In these works, profiles emerge from the surface and disappear again, leading to a new abstracted understanding of the human figure. The artist himself commented on this series as follows: “The main concern in these works is the relationship between that which we call geometric and that which we call organic. Both being aesthetic descriptions of the physical world. The human figure is obviously an organic form but there are many geometries in it – our organs, bone structure, cells, and molecules.”
From the 1990s, Günther Förg began to create large-format window and grid paintings with hastily drawn brushstrokes of nuanced and faded colours on canvas and paper. These works have to be read in terms of geometrical architectural structures. Through his grid paintings Förg delves into the concepts of construction and organization, illustrating the essence of order and rational harmony that rules modern architecture. With the repeating lines and patterns of his paintings, Förg adds a conceptual layer to the formal abstraction of his architectural photographs.
Frank O. Gehry
In the early 1970s, Frank O. Gehry designed the Easy Edges collection - a group of seventeen pieces of cardboard furniture that made the young Canadian architect famous worldwide. Made from layered corrugated cardboard, this chair embodies the aesthetic combination of a raw, ordinary material with modern, geometric design. "One day I saw a pile of corrugated cardboard outside of my office - the material which I prefer for building architecture models - and I began to play with it into shapes with a hand saw and a pocket knife." The result was a surprisingly robust, industrial yet ecologically conscious piece of furniture that developed a noble texture in its use. Ghery's innovative experiments in furniture design and his procedural explorations earned him his reputation as a pioneer in the field of modern architecture.
The Greek artist Jannis Kounellis was a co-founder of Arte Povera and worked primarily with found objects and materials such as earth, wood, potato sacks or waste products. He was interested in strong contrasts such as industry and nature and used them in his works. History, mythology, and industrial revolution played an important role in his works. "I search for unity in a dramatic way, although it is unattainable, although it is utopian, although it is impossible and, for all these reasons, dramatic."
François Morellet's work is primarily dedicated to painting, light art, kinetic art, and sculpture. His works are attributed to Minimalism and Concrete Art and are based on a strictly rational application of mathematical systems combined with a humorous playfulness. Grid and planar structures as well as linear arrangements are characteristic of his work.
The main focus in the oeuvre of the American artist Louise Nevelson lies on large, relief- and stele-like assemblages of furniture fragments and wood waste, which were usually painted over in black. Nevelson assembled the wooden boxes, which are open to the front, into architectural structures and filled them with found objects of all kinds – chair backs, bedposts, door handles or waste products. In the new context of the artwork, the remnants of cultural society unfold a new poetry of their own. "I love putting things together. I realised that collage is my way of thinking."
Jean Prouvé was inspired by the architects of the avant-garde and embraced a vision of design as a moral issue. As an influential designer, architect, engineer and teacher, he played an important role in the development of mass production systems in post-war modernism. Metal was the preferred material for the trained art smith. However, with the benefit of his profound knowledge of materials and the skilful use of connecting techniques, he also succeeded in integrating wood into his furniture in a very refined way. Characteristic for his work is the large-scale use of materials and the visualisation of the physical forces that occur.
In 1969, Gerhard Richter created a series of nine offset prints on cardboard, based on photographs of self-made wooden objects. They depict geometric wooden constructions that appear as impossible objects with visual illusions that seem at first unfathomable to the viewer. In an interview in 1972, the artist expressed his view on the relationship between reality and deception: "I do not distrust reality, of which I know next to nothing, but the image of reality that our senses impart to us and that is imperfect [...]".
Gerrit Rietveld was one of the most important designers and architects of the 20th century. A trained carpenter, the Dutchman joined the De Stijl movement at an early age. From 1918 onwards, his works reflect the artistic ideals of the artists' group. Abstract compositions of lines and planes, predominantly in black, white, grey and the primary colours yellow, red and blue, were characteristic for his work. However, in search of ways to further develop his radical artistic ideas, Rietveld soon turned away from the De Stijl aesthetic and experimented with innovative materials such as laminated wood and aluminium until the end of the 1930s. These experiments ultimately resulted in the legendary Zig-Zag chair.
Los Angeles and American advertising culture had a significant influence on Ed Ruscha's work. He often depicts urban life and western landscapes in combination with typography. The witty and enigmatic use of text in his work became characteristic of Ruscha. He alludes to the myths of commercial cultures as well as urban life in a humorous and ironic way, exploiting the immediacy of language entirely.
The American sculptor and conceptualist Lawrence Weiner defines language as his medium. “I grew up in a city where I had read the walls; I still read the walls. I love to put work of mine out on the walls and let people read it. Some will remember it and then somebody else comes along and puts something else over it. It becomes archaeology rather than history.” Weiner's works exist only as language and can be exhibited in any form. His texts appear on walls and windows of galleries and in public spaces, on canvases and paper, as audio recordings and videos, in printed books and posters, cast or carved objects, tattoos, graffiti, etc.