127
127

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT NEW JERSEY COLLECTION

George Nakashima
AN IMPORTANT DOUBLE-PEDESTAL DESK
Estimate
70,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT
127

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT NEW JERSEY COLLECTION

George Nakashima
AN IMPORTANT DOUBLE-PEDESTAL DESK
Estimate
70,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Design

|
New York

George Nakashima
AN IMPORTANT DOUBLE-PEDESTAL DESK
signed and dated George Nakashima/July 18, 1986 with original owner’s name and dedication
African zebrawood, walnut
28 7/8  x 84 1/8  x 42 in. (73.3 x 213.6 x 106.6 cm)
designed 1985, executed 1986
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Commissioned directly from the artist by the present owner, 1985

Literature

Derek E. Ostergard, George Nakashima: Full Circle, exh. cat., American Craft Museum, New York, 1989, p. 122, cat. 7 (for a related example)
Mira Nakashima, Nature, Form, and Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima, New York, 2003, p. 105 (for a related example)

Catalogue Note


This lot is offered together with a copy of the original design drawing.



This important double pedestal desk is a superb illustration of how George Nakashima gave “second life to trees” in his craft. This desk represents a melding of Nakashima’s early and late oeuvre, in that it features both his long-favored material of American black walnut and also the use of exotic hardwoods, which Nakashima began to employ in the 1970s. Nakashima selected rare zebrawood for the slab ornamenting the top of the desk, and the figurations in light and dark tones that dance across the surface of the slab are particularly fine. Choosing the ideal type of wood for every project was tantamount to Nakashima, as he wished to honor the spirit of the tree in his pieces. It would often take Nakashima years to find the ideal project for a slab of wood in his collection. Nakashima’s studio air-dried and baked these wood slabs in a kiln, and he felt that the process of finishing wood was akin to the forming of a precious diamond. Paradoxically, Nakashima perfected his Japanese techniques of craft while he was imprisoned in an American internment camp during World War II. Nakashima was exposed to the traditional techniques of woodcraft through working with Japanese craftsmen in the prison camp, and he also learned the ability to adapt his designs to fit the materials at hand while he was confined.

The aim of Japanese woodcraft is to work with nature, rather than against it, and Nakashima embodied this philosophy in making his pieces. This desk was constructed in the 1980s, during a period in Nakashima’s career where he began to employ ever more complex joinery. Most notably on this desk, Nakashima utilized beautifully articulated black walnut joinery butterflies to bring together natural separations in the striking zebrawood slab. This desk is one of Nakashima’s celebrated forms, in which he elevated the desk form off of the floor using double pedestals. While the double pedestal desk was a design that Nakashima had crafted early in his career, he returned to the form starting in the mid-1970s. This desk displays how Nakashima firmly believed that good craftsmanship possessed “unseen mortality,” and making the joinery a perceptible part of his work was a signature of Nakashima’s craft. The visible butterflies on the slab of this desk call to mind the workmanship of the Shakers, who, much like Nakashima, believed in only forming thoughtfully constructed and honest furniture. Nakashima’s work was a natural continuation of the Shaker tradition, and he thought of himself as a “Japanese Shaker.” This desk was commissioned directly from Nakashima by the present owner as a birthday gift, and it is a stunning example of Nakashima’s sculptural creations.

Important Design

|
New York