The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs

Desk (Model #500) Charles Rohlfs c. 1899-1901

Desk (Model #500) Charles Rohlfs c. 1899-1901

Decorative arts at the DMA has again soared to new heights with the opening of the exhibition The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs. The exhibition showcases over forty pieces of furniture and related objects produced around the turn of the twentieth century. What makes the show so exciting is the artistic designs and individuality of each hand-crafted piece. Curving lines and intricate forms come together to make inventive designs that demonstrate the artist’s interest in the creation of “artistic furniture.” Rohlfs chose not to be aligned with any particular artistic movement, but instead produced furniture that was bold and imaginative. Many of these works of art are displayed so visitors can walk around them as if they are sculptures.

My favorite work of art in this exhibition is the Desk (Model #500). Curving, smoke-like designs rest on top of an arch reminiscent of a Gothic cathedral while carved patterns on the lower half allow one to look through to the inside. Wood grain patterns on the surface create meandering playful ripples across the desk’s surface. While looking at the desk, I think about how Rohlfs chose to make a functional piece as well as an artistic work of art. This is something that must be seen in person!

The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs will be on view until January 3, 2010.

-Amy Wolf
Teaching Programs Coordinator


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