Monday, September 23, 2013

Feral Furniture.

I recently discovered some startling creations in wood dating from the first decade of the 20th century. These objects seem Arts-and-Crafts-inspired, but stranger, as if their sensuous forms are ready to writhe and prowl back into the woods.

(click images to enlarge)

Charles Rohlfs, 1901
Charles Rohlfs, 1900
Charles Rohlfs, 1901
Reginald Machell, 1905-10
Reginald Machell, 1905-10

The two artists who dreamed up these creatures were both untrained at woodworking, though they were clearly talented. From the little I've been able to read about them (mostly from "The Arts and Crafts Movement in California: Living the Good Life" by KR Trapp, and "Treasures of the American Arts and Crafts Movement 1890-1920" by TM Volpe and B Cathers, from which these images were scanned), it seems they were unique individuals.

Charles Rohlfs was a New York City (later Buffalo, NY) actor and iron stove foundry manager who made his wood furniture initially for himself and family friends.

Reginald Machell was an English painter and follower of H.P. Blavatsky who ended up carving and painting wood furniture and frames for his new home at the Theosophical Society at Point Loma in San Diego.

So far I've found few images or fleshed-out details about either artist on the world wide webs. Good thing we still have libraries and bookstores!

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