Reflecting market confidence in George Nakashima as a seminal figure in the history of American Studio Craft and emphasizing the importance of Pennsylvania Craft and Design, Freeman's
sale is anchored by a large collection of over 20 Nakashima pieces assembled by Arnold and Corinne Roth. While notable works in this private collection include a pair of Conoid cushion chairs with cantilevered seats (Lot 27) and a rare pair of special-order small bookcases with two shelves (Lot 39), the undoubted highlight is the Conoid bench (Lot 28), one of the finest examples of the form, featuring an unusually large and spectacularly grained slab of American black walnut.
Arnold and Corinne Roth favored modern design and sought to furnish their Brooklyn, New York and then Livingston, New Jersey homes in that fashion, particularly with the warmth of wood furniture. They forged a relationship with George Nakashima in the early 1950s, referring to him fondly as a friend and ordering works from him over successive decades through the early 1980s. Comprising seating, tables, case and wall furniture, their collection represents Nakashima's repertoire of form and tracks his evolving design sensibility.
The Roth Collection is complemented by the sale's other vintage Nakashima offerings, including its catalogue cover and projected top lot: The Frosh Family Sanso "Reception House" table (Lot 81). With its expressive wood grain replete with whorls and fissures and numerous butterfly joints, the table exemplifies George Nakashima's singular design aesthetic driven by his desire to accentuate the inherent beauty in the wood.
Built by George Nakashima for the family of Stanley Frosh, a prominent judge and close family friend, this impressive table is named for the Reception House (also known as the Sanso or Mountain Villa) -- the last building designed and built by George Nakashima on his New Hope, Pennsylvania compound from 1975-77. Today, the Sanso Villa showcases a number of Nakashima masterworks, including the earliest designed Sanso table, built for the space with two large bookmatched English walnut slabs. Nakashimas mastery is on full display in these monumental forms, highlighting the extraordinary crotch grain of the wood, cradled by a delicate support system. The Frosh table is likely one of the earliest of these Sanso forms, a design that was later adapted by George Nakashima for his even larger Altars for Peace. These Altars were intended to be placed on every continent--tables around which George envisioned people from all over the world coming together for prayer, meditation and contemplation. George began the project in 1984, a project continued today by Mira Nakashima and the George Nakashima Foundation for Peace.
Although George Nakashima's work constitutes nearly half of the sale, the auction also includes works by other icons of design, including Louis Kahn, Wharton
Esherick, Paul Evans, and Finn Juhl, as well as a handsome selection of contemporary glass and ceramics. Connections to the Commonwealth and Philadelphia abound with works from the Clay Studio in Philadelphia and a selection of important New Hope works from local family collections bought and owned directly from the artists.
Freeman's Design Sale will take place on Sunday, October 8th at 12pm. Exhibition will be open to the public on Wednesday, October 4th through Friday, October 6th from 10am to 5pm, and Saturday, October 7th from 12pm to 5pm. Events coinciding with the exhibition include an evening lecture by William Whitaker and George Marcus on Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) and the Weiss House; and a preview party with remarks to be made by Jennifer Zwilling, Curator of Artistic Programs, Clay Studio Philadelphia.