Julien Berthier’s Ambidextrous Incompetence Reveals a Whole New Red and Blue

I dedicate this post to my dogs-Husky-Mix Max and Chocolate Lab Mina-mostly because the composition of Julien Berthier's Red and Blue Chair recalls the respective colors of their collars and leashes, but also because the odd, twisted, surreal profile of the piece reminds me of the shape of poor Max's spine. The latter-who may be as old as 14-spent the bulk of his days pulling a sled until we adopted him and instructed him in the glories of the couch some 3.5 yrs. back. Suffice it to say that he has a spot of arthritis. Now I wish I could claim that, in the manner of El Greco, Berthier had an arcane dysfunction that skewed his spatial perception, but, alas, an only slightly less interesting constraint bore the fruition of Red and Blue: "drawn with my left hand, and built by scrupulously following the resulting drawing... the prototype was then given to a carpenter who produced a series of five identical copies."

Red and Blue chair. Designed by Julien Berthier.

The original Red and Blue was authored by Dutchman and Mondrian cohort Gerrit Rietveld in 1918 as a product of his immersion in the De Stijl art movement. Also known as Neo-Plasticism, this school-whose active period spanned 1917-1931-was comprised of a group of painters and architects who aspired towards a new Utopian art. The movement's idea of an artistic idyll involved abstraction and purity of color and form. Their work thus frequently involved simplified geometric forms and solid blocks of primary shades. One can certainly see the influence of Mondrian in Rietveld's chair, as one spies a whole host of philosophical ghosts and specters over Berthier's shoulder.

Julien Berthier’s Ambidextrous Incompetence Reveals a Whole New Red and Blue

A short list of the latter might include the aforementioned El Greco, as well as Dalí, Miró, and Tim Burton. Berthier's Red and Blue is a distorted doppelganger of Rietveld's chair, putting me in mind of some classic motifs of dysfunctional twinning: as Elijah Price is to David Dunn (Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson from Shyamalan's Unbreakable), or Hyde to Jekyll, so does the artistic gamesmanship and formal hijinks of Berthier match the studious precision of Rietveld.

The original piece is wood in painted lacquer and can be seen at MOMA and Atlanta's High Museum of Art. Contact Monsieur Berthier for further info. about his new Red and Blue.

Via Chairblog.

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