What: Lecture: The Interiors of Charles Rohlfs
When: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 6:30 p.m
Where: Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, 2 East 91st Street, NY
Charles Rohlfs (1853-1936) had quite a career in his life. He was an actor, artist and designer. As a furniture maker, he rode along the high trends that included the Aesthetic Movement, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and proto-modernism.
Joseph Cunningham, curator of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation and author of The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs will give a lecture on Charles Rohlfs’s unknown interiors created during the period 1904 to 1909. I have seen some of the furniture he made during that period. The narrow and tall character has a tint of Gothic Revival, but its inventive design with more simplified straight lines epitomized Arts and Crafts style. It is also intriguing to me because some of the chairs indicate a strong influence of traditional Asian style.
Charles was a native Brooklynite and went to Cooper-Union. It is not surprising that his furniture has become sought-after for the past few years. It has a more modern looking that can please both the boomers and yuppies yet with an exquisite complexity that Ikea could not match. Furthermore, another feature probably contributes his ever-growing fame: signature. Collectors love signed furniture; even a soap-hollow painted chest could reach 5 digits a few years ago simply because it was signed and dated. Rohlfs did something better: He marked most of his works with a hard-to-copy incised little drawing of a bow saw around an “R” and filled the incisions with red wax.