The Noble Line – Wanscher + Tenreiro Furniture Masterworks

20 March - 11 May 2019

64 White Street

R & Company, in collaboration with designer and Danish furniture expert Vance Trimble, is pleased to announce a groundbreaking exhibition, The Noble Line – Wanscher + Tenreiro, Furniture Masterworks, taking place in the upper level gallery of the 64 White Street location. The exhibition explores the unexpected chemistry between two pioneering designers from Europe and South America: Brazilian Joaquim Tenreiro and Dane Ole Wanscher. These design giants, born in the first decade of the 20th century, are being shown together for the first time. In their respective markets, each was able to synthesize traditional furniture idioms into a new type that was in sync with the emerging rational and space-saving architecture of the mid-twentieth century. Both fervently rejected fads and remained true to their own specific design philosophies, which had been shaped in each case by family dynasties: Tenreiro came from a long line of Portuguese furniture makers and Wanscher from a family of art and architecture academics. Both men were perfectionists. They created works of the highest level of craftsmanship, sharing a love of wood – particularly Brazilian rosewood – that played an important role in the creation of so many of their iconic pieces. Also linking them aesthetically was their predilection for elegance of line and lightness of form. Presented is a curated exhibition of masterworks that rediscovers their prolific careers and their ongoing international influence.

Ole Wanscher was the son of a colorful, but brilliant, art historian who instilled in him a love for architecture and design. Learned in his own right, and armed with a deep understanding of historical furniture, Wanscher created some of the most refined pieces of the Danish modern design movement. Over the course of a highly successful career, Wanscher was acclaimed for his sophisticated furniture designs of slender dimensions, impeccable lines, and elegant curves. “He combined fully and equally the talents of a master craftsman, designer and sculptor with those of a historian. His sensitivity to the luster and living delicacy of wood enabled him to bring organic life and rich sense of the past to the indelibly modern sparseness of the International Style” stated Roberta Smith in her New York Times review of the 2003 exhibition Danish Modern Master Furniture which was organized by Vance Trimble at Dickinson Roundell to celebrate the one-hundredth year of Wanscher’s birth. The exhibition at R & Company is the first American gallery presentation to feature Wanscher’s masterworks since the 2003 show, and it draws from Trimble’s extensive collection and archival holdings of Wanscher, whose work he has specialized in for twenty years.

Joaquim Tenreiro achieved great success in Brazil and is renowned as one of the best woodcarvers through his sensual designs, impeccable craftsmanship, and his sensitivity to detail. Although he remained relatively unknown outside of his own country due to the political climate during the time, the cultural influence of working in Brazil in the 1950’s provided Tenreiro with the freedom to explore his skills and to break away from traditions. In recent years, as the international market for Brazilian design has rapidly grown, Tenreiro is increasingly achieving global recognition for his long-lasting contribution to this visionary movement. Similar to Wanscher, Tenreiro’s designs possess an exquisite formalism that references the past while pushing techniques forward. “His subtlety with curves and his furniture’s slim silhouettes, rendered in Brazilian hardwoods, have prompted many to consider Tenreiro the foremost pioneer of modern Brazilian design” states Aric Chen in R & Company’s 2016 publication, Brazil Modern: The Rediscovery of Twentieth Century Design.

The exhibition also highlights Wanscher and Tenreiro’s appreciation of materials, as they both often worked in the warm rosewoods famously sourced from the Bahia timber industry. By the mid-1960’s, Denmark was the world’s leading importer of Brazilian rosewood. Wanscher collaborated with the leading Danish master cabinetmakers to create works of the highest quality, while Tenreiro was a master woodworker in his own right and oversaw a workshop of up to 100 artisans where he frequently carried out unique commissions. On view is a selection of the most impeccable examples of their furniture made in this organic material. By presenting their work side by side, the exhibition celebrates the rediscovery of both designers who are now celebrated as international connoisseurs of their craft as the collectable market and institutional interest for their work continues to grow.

The Noble Line – Wanscher + Tenreiro, Furniture Masterworks is on view from March 19 to May 11 at R & Company’s 64 White Street location and runs concurrently with a solo exhibition of work by Bae Se Hwa.