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Wharton Esherick (American, 1887–1970)

c. 1939

Medium wood and leather Measurements H: 40 x W: 23 1/4 x D: 23 in. (101.6 x 59.06 x 58.4 cm) Credit Decorative Arts Purchase Fund Accession Number 94.2 Location Not on View


Trained as a painter, Wharton Esherick was unable to support himself through the sale of his paintings, so he began to produce prints and wooden frames. He made furniture, initially, for his own use but soon found a market for his work. Esherick was one of the first Americans to combine the aesthetics of contemporary art and design with the craft and individuality of woodworking. The bold and asymmetric geometry of the legs and arms of this chair owe a great deal to Cubism and the Art Deco style. Interestingly, the front legs and arms were carved from two halves of a wagon wheel, illustrating Esherick's ingenious use of found objects. In 1930, he had made a large set of chairs using hammer handles (fifteen per chair). Esherick was clearly an early proponent of recycling.