LAPADA The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers and Country Life magazine have unveiled the shortlist for this year's Object of the Year competition. Member dealers of LAPADA were invited to submit rare or unusual items, not necessarily of great financial worth but of historic interest. Dozens of unusual and historic items were submitted, from a prototype Winnie the Pooh toy to a 1912 Olympic gold medal… a 17th century posy ring to a modernist chair.
Here are a few of my own personal favourites from the shortlist:
In this rare chair Gerald Summers not only captured the zeitgeist of a specific era - 1930's Britain, but also created what has come to be recognized as one of the world's Modernist masterpieces.
The design achieved what his counterparts across Europe and Scandinavia had been striving for - the ideal unity of material, production, function and form. At this time adhesives and jointing methods did not stand the strain of everyday use and a number of both Alvar Aalto and Marcel Breuer’s designs had to be modified with bracing. This was alien to Summers’ beliefs, “In pure design we expect each part and member to pull its full weight in making the design suitable for its purpose."
Such was the concern of an American buyer about the durability of this chair that it was given an ‘environmental’ test; it was soaked with water and left in a warm, damp space for a number of weeks. It passed the test and the London Patent Office granted Summers ‘application for registry’ of the chair to protect his innovative design from infringement.
Like other designers of the Modernist movement Summers was striving to leave behind superfluity in all its forms. To fulfill the brief the function must first be considered, then the material and finally the form. Summers believed and with this design proved that as a result of applying these principles "sight too will be satisfied".
Only 120 of these chairs were originally made and fewer have survived. An example of this Bent Plywood Armchair together with a short film of its making is to be included in the new 20th Century Furniture Galleries opening this year at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The example in the collections of MOMA New York is currently being exhibited at the museum in the 'Plywood: Material, Process, Form' exhibition.
"Straighforward’ pottery can rise to great heights and this is the case with the work of Lucie Rie. Her work never extends beyond pottery, it is not pretentious but it has very special qualities....Simple yet infinitely subtle and complex, Lucie Rie pots approach excellence not by refinement to an ever purer shape; it is by their sturdiness and their fraility; a combination of opposites, economy and luxuriance, lightness and dark. Perhaps above all it is their correctness and fallibility – the inimitable Lucie Rie ‘quiver’ which holds the attention of the observers of her work."
A Byzantine Gold Spoon (Byzantium 500 to 600)
Of great historical interest and artistic merit, this spoon speaks of an international global trade in fine and beautiful works of art some fourteen hundred years ago. It bears the evidence of being hammered up and buried for some considerable time. Excavated by a farmer in or around Somerset it was purchased by W.Sparks and Sons of Taunton, Scrap Iron and Metal Merchants in the 1930's. When William Sparks died after the war, the spoon passed to his grandson John Webber of Wellington, Somerset, and remained in the family until put up for sale in 2008.
You can cast your vote for your favourite item on the LAPADA website. Voting closes on the 4th June and twelve finalists will be exhibited at the Olympia International Fine Art & Antiques Fair from 7-17 June 2012.