Untitled [Replica Rietveld Chair] (c.1975-6?) [3/M]

Untitled [Replica Rietveld Chair] (c.1975-6?) [3_M]#0E74

Synthetic polymer paint on wood, approx. 38.5 x 60 x 80

Private collection, Melbourne

This reduced scale replica of Gerrit Rietveld’s classic red-blue chair (1918) dates from the 1970s (see Spray 72), although it was first recorded in 1980, when Melbourne artist/critic Robert Rooney photographed Arkley sitting in it, in his studio, with Proton-Neutron 50s (1979) in the background.

In 1981, Melbourne critic and theorist Paul Taylor mentioned this work in his influential ‘New Wave’ article in the inaugural issue of Art + Text, suggesting that while it was ‘initially something of a carpentry exercise, the chair was quoted as an example of Modernist optimism and faith in a new harmony of constructive art’. By contrast, argued Taylor, Arkley’s own stylized furniture, e.g. in Muzak Mural – Chair Tableau (1980-81) [3/M], reflected a more complex ‘second degree’ approach to modernist sources, combining popular culture references in a more ‘disquieting’ blend.

For Arkley’s interest in Rietveld and the De Stijl movement generally, see Carnival 30 and 131.

Provenance

  • artist’s collection
  • P/C Melb.

Literature

  • Taylor, Art + Text #1, 1981, 30 (quoted above)
  • Jenepher Duncan (ed.), From the Homefront: Robert Rooney – Works 1953-1988, Monash University Gallery, 1990, photo facing p.38 (1980 photo of Arkley as noted above)
  • Spray 72, commenting that both Arkley and John Nixon made replicas of the Rietveld chair, and implying a date of c.1975-6
  • Carnival 30, mentioning this work in relation to Spartan Space (Homage to De Stijl) (1992); also back cover (reproducing Rooney’s 1980 photo)