The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs

Joseph Cunningham; With a foreword by Bruce Barnes and an introduction by Sarah Fayen

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A highly anticipated look at the life and work of one of turn-of-the-century America’s most creative and influential furniture designers

Charles Rohlfs (1853–1936) ranked among the most innovative furniture makers at the turn of the twentieth century. Praised by the international press and exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, his beautiful works grew out of an interesting mix of styles that included Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and proto-modernism. This book presents the first major study of this important American designer and craftsman, drawing upon new photographs and fresh sources of information.

Alongside traditional historical approaches, the book presents detailed formal, structural, and stylistic analyses of Rohlfs’s well-known masterpieces from major museums, together with lesser-known objects in public and private collections.  Topics include discovering the contribution of Rohlfs’s wife—mystery novelist Anna Katharine Green—to his designs; the far-ranging sources of his idiosyncratic motifs; his influence on Gustav Stickley’s designs; his commissioned interiors; his efforts at self-promotion and marketing; and his attempts to define a conceptual framework for his artistic endeavor. Handsomely designed and illustrated, the book also features a complete set of unpublished period illustrations of over seventy works. 

Joseph Cunningham is the curator of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation.  His publications include Design Is Not Art: Functional Objects from Donald Judd to Rachel Whiteread (2004). Bruce Barnes is founder and president of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation. Sarah Fayen is assistant curator of the Chipstone Foundation and adjunct assistant curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum.


Milwaukee Art Museum (June 6 – August 23, 2009) 

Dallas Museum of Art (September 20, 2009 – January 3, 2010)

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (January 30 – April 25, 2010)

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino (May 22 – September 6, 2010)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (October 19, 2010 – January 23, 2011)

"An in-depth look at the man who thumbed his nose at the tenets of Arts and Craft furniture as espoused by William Morris. . . . A well-researched, scholarly work, the book features a generous collection of weird, wacky, and wonderful pieces designed by a man who had his own unique vision and interpretation of Arts and Crafts."—Finewoodworking blog

"Charles Rohlfs . . . was active as [a] furniture designer for a relatively short time, but his influence has been quite extensive. This erudite and comprehensive biographical catalog explains how."—Maine Antique Digest

"The introduction could hardly be more loving or lavish. It's followed by a wealth of color and information, and each chapter opens with full-page details of the extraordinary wood carving that was so basic to Rohlfs designs. . . . This is a remarkably vivid portrait of a unique talent flourishing at one of those extraordinarily adventurous periods of transition, and idealistic time when there was a belief that design and art could transform society."—Interior Design Magazine

"Seductive visuals and worthy scholarship."—Town & Country

"A beautiful book. . . . well-researched and documented with 321 color photographs and unpublished period illustrations." —Arts & Crafts Homes and the Revival

Winner of the 2009 Henry-Russell Hitchcock Book Award sponsored by the Victorian Society of America.

Winner of the 2008 Charles F. Montgomery Prize for most distinguished contribution to the study of American decorative arts published in the English language, given by the Decorative Arts Society.

Co-winner of the 2009 Henry Allen Moe Prize for catalogues of distinction in the arts, given bythe New York State Historical Association.
ISBN: 9780300139099
Publication Date: November 25, 2008
Publishing Partner: Published in association with American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation
304 pages, 9 3/4 x 12
16 b/w + 321 color illus.
The Jewelry and Metalwork of Marie Zimmermann

Deborah Dependahl Waters, Joseph Cunningham, and Bruce Barn

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