Editor's note: The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum provided source material to Resource Library for the following article published February 19, 2016. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:


The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design

June 4 - August 28, 2016


Exploring chairs as art -- functional and sculptural objects -- and offering insights into sublime design, "The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design," opened June 4, 2016 at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. (right: Designed by Thomas Ustick Walter, manufactured by Hammitt Desk Manufacturing Company, Philadelphia, House of Representatives Chamber Arm Chair, 1857, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn)

Each chair tells a story about national history and the evolution of American design, eloquently told through this ubiquitous, essential piece of furniture. Evolving, aesthetic trends are reflected in lush textures, sleek lines, and striking colors. Social and cultural developments, emerging technology, and ergonomics also are part of the story.

In this survey of exceptional chair design, visitors will experience nineteenth-century to contemporary chairs chosen for their beauty and historical context, as well as social, economic, political, and cultural influences. Including readily recognizable pieces alongside rarely seen antiques, the stylistic journey ranges from designs by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, the Herter Brothers, and the Stickley Brothers to Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, and Frank Gehry. The exhibition also features contemporary and historic designs by manufacturers Knoll, Herman Miller, and Steelcase.

The "House of Representatives Chamber Arm Chair," 1857, designed by Thomas Ustick Walter, an architect of the Capitol, is an example of those created for use in the U.S. Congress and showcased in portraits of political leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson.

The " 'McKinley' Arm Chair," ca. 1894-1896, designed 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.

"The Art of Seating," on view through August 28, 2016, is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida, in collaboration with the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington D.C.

To view the 12-page events calendar for the exhibit please click here.

To view the 2-page Activity Guide for the exhibit please click here.


Interactive Options and Programs

Opportunities for creative engagement abound at the Woodson Art Museum through programs for all ages and exhibition extras.

Kick Back & Say "Cheese" -- Pose for snapshots and selfies in the oversized Adirondack chair near the Museum's south parking lot; share your smiles on social media using #bigwoodsonchair

Design Lounge: Recline & Consider Design -- Visitors are invited to jot down and share reflections about their favorite chairs and responses to designs in "The Art of Seating." Add your comments to retro chair cushions.


(above: Designed by David Wolcott Kendall, manufactured by Phoenix Furniture Company (founded 1870), Grand Rapids, MI, "McKinley" Arm Chair, ca. 1894-1896, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn)


(above: Design and manufacture attributed to Pottier & Stymus and Company (est. 1859), New York City, Egyptian Revival Side Chair, ca. 1875, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn)


(above: Designed and manufactured by Kenneth Smythe, Oakland, CA, Synergistic Synthesis XVII sub b1 Chair, 2003, photo by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn)


Resource Library editor's note:

Readers may also enjoy additional articles and essays within this topic:

Read more information, articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Resource Library.

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History. Individual pages in this catalogue will be amended as TFAO adds content, corrects errors and reorganizes sections for improved readability. Refreshing or reloading pages enables readers to view the latest updates.

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2016 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.