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31st May, 2012

Max Clendinning: Avant Craft

Event Details

31st May, 2012
Tue - Fri 11am - 5pm; Sat 10am - 4pm (Closed for Bank Holiday Tue 5 June)
End Date:
16th June, 2012
Chelsea Space, Chelsea College of Art and Design, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU

Chelsea space presents a rare opportunity to see the painted plywood furniture of renowned architect and interior designer Max Clendinning. Born in 1924 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, Clendinning’s designs, painted in flat, occasionally bright, gloss colours are highly original, enigmatic, and difficult to classify and have been variously described as ‘Postmodernist’, ‘Pop’ or ‘Late Modern’.

Clendinning has an international reputation as an architect and designer and came to prominence in the 1960s with past clients including Christian Dior and designs sold through such established retailers as Liberty and Co. Often compared with the postmodernist Memphis Design group, Clendinning’s furniture combines glossy flat surfaces with dynamic curves, a playful almost toy-like quality, and intriguing design solutions. His innovative constructions are well made but are time consuming (and therefore expensive) to manufacture. As a result they did not survive the consumer driven economics of the late 20th Century and had all but disappeared from view except amongst the cognoscenti.

The pieces in the Chelsea space exhibition come from the collection of musician and artist Nick Cash, former drummer with the cult band Fad Gadget and a determined Clendinning enthusiast, and from Max Clendinning’s own private collection. The show will include cut painted plywood furniture, a unique papier maché lamp, a series of maquettes, and some rare abstract paintings on paper from the early 1960’s.

This presentation of Clendinning’s designs also tacitly tells the story of Nick Cash’s obsessive journey to find and own furniture by Max Clendinning, the twists and turns of the second hand furniture market, and the series of accidental connections that led to their eventual meeting and their subsequent shared discourse around Max Clendinning’s life and work.

Since Nick Cash’s rare sighting and eventual purchase of his first Max Clendinning piece over twenty years ago, the world has slowly begun to catch up; there has been a recent renewed interest in Clendinning’s furniture, his work was recently acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum and he is currently featured in the V&A landmark exhibition British Design 1948 – 2012. It is thanks to Nick Cash’s foresight and Max Clendinning’s generosity that Chelsea space can make this unique solo exhibition of one of the most innovative and original designers of a generation.

For more information please visit Chelsea College of Art & Design website and the Chelsea Space website.

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