Our AW21 collection 'CONCURRENCE' explores the contrast between natural form and linear detailing, looking to artist Anne Brigman and architect and furniture maker George Nakashima for their work exploring the female form (Brigman) and the relationship between linear design and natural irregularity (Nakashima).
George Nakashima (May 24, 1905 – June 15, 1990) was a woodworker, furniture maker and architect.
George Nakashima, Rare free-edge low table, 1966.
In 1942 Nakashima and his young family were relocated to an internment camp in Idaho, alongside 120,000 other Japanese-Americans. There, he met the master Issei carpenter Gentaro Hikogawa, from whom he learnt many woodworking techniques. A year later, Antonin Raymond managed to secure a release for the family, by employing Nakashima on his farm in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Note: The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 is a US Federal Law that granted reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned by the United States government during World War 2. The purpose of the Act was to acknowledge, apologise and make restitution for the "fundamental injustice of the [racist] evacuation, relocation and internment of US citizens and permanent resident of Japanese ancestry”.
Upon his release, Nakashima moved to New Hope, PA, and reopened his furniture workshop and studio. Starting with just Nakashima, the studio grew to employ many fine craftsmen. It still operates today under the direction of his daughter, Mira Nakashima-Yarnall. In 1946, the artist designed a series for Knoll, a furniture company.
Nakashima's home in PA, US.
Nakashima embraced the unique qualities of wood — cracks, holes and the like. For him, they revealed the ‘soul of the tree’. He believed that the individuality of the wood should be celebrated, and it was the role of the craftsman to bring it out. ‘Each flitch, each board, each plank can have only one ideal use,’ he opined. ‘The woodworker, applying a thousands skills, must find that ideal use and then shape the wood to realise its true potential.’
Grass seat chair, 1960
Sources: Artnet, Christie’s, US Internment Archives.
Anne Wardrope Brigman (née Nott; December 3, 1869 – February 8, 1950) was an American photographer. Her most famous images were taken between 1900 and 1920, and depict nude women in primordial, naturalistic contexts.
Soul of the blasted pine, 1909
To capture her images of female nudes in natural landscapes, Anne Brigman sometimes set up camp for weeks or months at a time, eight thousand feet up in the Sierra Nevada. “Where I go is wild—hard to reach . . . because there [are] things in life to be expressed in these places,” she wrote to a Vanity Fair reporter, in 1916. Brigman would load her heavy camera equipment into stagecoaches that picked their way through the Sacramento Valley and up the American River Canyon, then finish her journey using pack mules to ascend to Donner Pass or into Desolation Valley. Her sister Elizabeth and a selection of friends often accompanied her, and together they would camp, hike, cavort, and pose for Brigman’s pictures.
The Breeze, 1909
The soft nude bodies in Brigman’s photographs twist and contort, pushed up against the trunk of the tangled juniper trees that are common in the harsh environment of the High Sierras; she captures knees sliding along rough granite, skin exposed to wind and cold.
As a young woman, Brigman sustained an injury, while sailing with her husband, that resulted in heavy scarring on her left breast. In her self-portraits, she often concealed the disfigurement by manipulating negatives with graphite and paint or abrading the emulsion.
Heart of the storm, 1912
Sources: The New Yorker.