Gerrit Thomas Rietveld Gerard van de Groenekan
Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, Dutch, Zig-Zag chair, 1941, Stained elm wood, steel screws; 76.2 x 45.7 x 61 cm (30 x 18 x 24 inches), Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 2001.2
The remarkably simple appearance of this Zig-Zag chair belies its complex dovetailed construction, leading the artist Gerrit Rietveld to describe is as his “designer’s joke.” The four rectangular planes meet at angles, thus requiring dovetailed joints and reinforcement by screws and wooden wedges. Visually, however, the chair is cohesive and anticipates the single-piece molded construction of 1960s plastic chairs. As a prominent member of the Dutch De Stijl (The Style) movement, Rietveld adhered to the group’s advocacy of pure abstraction by a reduction to the essentials of form and color.With just base, support, seat, and back, Rietveld’s deconstructed chair bears no resemblance to previous furniture forms.