The Art of Seating Media Release (Word Doc)

Sarah R. Smith
[email protected]
Reynolda House Fall Exhibition ‘The Art of Seating’
to Highlight 200 Years of American Chair Design
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (April 24, 2014) – Reynolda House Museum of American Art will
host “The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design” Aug. 23-Dec. 31, 2014. The traveling
exhibition features 43 chairs representing two centuries of American history, design and
craftsmanship. Reynolda House is the exhibition’s only venue with its own decorative arts
collection on view in its original setting.
“The Art of Seating” presents iconic and historic chairs dating from the early 1800s to today’s
studio furniture movement. The exhibition provides an opportunity for visitors to see readily
recognizable pieces from the Arts and Crafts movement and the mid-century Modern period
alongside rare and exceptionally well-preserved antiques.
Curated by Ben Thompson, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, “The Art
of Seating” takes the viewer into the design studio, sharing stories behind the designs, patent
drawings and artist renderings. Selections from the Jacobsen Collection of American Art offer a
stylistic journey in furniture with showstoppers by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, the
Herter Brothers, the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero
Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Gehry and others waiting to be discovered. The exhibition also
features both contemporary and historic designs by some of the leading furniture manufacturers
such as Knoll, Herman Miller and Steelcase.
Perhaps the most illustrious object in this exhibition is the House of Representatives Chamber
Arm Chair from 1857. Designed by Thomas U. Walter, Architect of the U.S. Capitol from 1851
to 1865, the House of Representatives chairs were created to be used by legislators in the House
chamber and were showcased in portraits of political leaders such as Presidents Abraham
Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. A later chair in the exhibition by David Wolcott Kendall, deemed
by his peers as “The Dean of American Furniture Design,” was presented to William McKinley
during his term in the White House and has become known as the “McKinley” arm chair.
The exhibition’s time at Reynolda House will be complemented by the museum’s own
decorative arts collection on view in the historic house and recently made available on the
museum’s website. In furnishing her 30,000 square-foot house, Katharine Reynolds, wife of
tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds, worked with architect Charles Barton Keen and interior designer
Earle Ash Belmont of Wanamaker’s Department Store in Philadelphia. Most of the museum’s
furnishings are original to 1917. The museum plans programs and online content that will make
connections between the chairs featured in “The Art of Seating” and those on view throughout
the historic house.
The exhibition has inspired a number of collaborative exhibits and programs throughout the
Piedmont Triad, including collaborations with High Point University, the Center for Design
Innovation, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and the High Point Furniture Market
Authority. More information on related programs and events will be publicized on the museum’s
website in the coming weeks. Sponsorship opportunities are available by calling Stephan
Dragisic at 336.758.5595.
“The Art of Seating” is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville in
collaboration with the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation and is toured by
International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a private non-profit visual arts educational
institution and cultural resource of the University of North Florida, serves the community and its
visitors through exhibitions, collections, educational programs and publications designed to
enhance an understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art with particular
emphasis on works created from 1960 to the present.
The American Chair Collection started as a way to provide further context to the Thomas H.
and Diane D. Jacobsen Collection of American Art—paintings, sculpture, silver and furniture
which were acquired during the early 1990s. The creation of the chair collection began with the
purchase of an Egyptian Revival Side Chair and has since blossomed to the more than 40 works
on display in this exhibition.
International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a non-profit arts service organization
dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally,
through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. Visit
Reynolda House Museum of American Art is one of the nation’s premier American art
museums, with masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia
O’Keeffe and Gilbert Stuart among its collection. Affiliated with Wake Forest University,
Reynolda House features changing exhibitions, concerts, lectures, classes, film screenings and
other events. The museum is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the historic 1917
estate of Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband, Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Reynolda House and adjacent Reynolda Gardens and
Reynolda Village feature a spectacular public garden, dining, shopping and walking trails. For
more information, please visit or call 336.758.5150. Connect at and @CurateReynolda.
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