WHARTON ESHERICK

1887-1970
United States

« If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. »

• Warthon Esherick •

The American Craft Studio, or American Craftmanship, is an important design movement, easily identifiable thanks to its unconditional attention to materials. George Nakashima is the best-known designer of this movement : his freeform masterpieces in American walnut are internationally recognized. But an another creator spearheads the movement : Wharton Esherick.

He is considered as the grandfather of American Craftmanship, the one who initiated the movement. He highlights work of wood in the workshop, artisanal know-how sublimating formal and functional properties of the material, creating organic forms : the woodworkers do not want to force but to transcend the existing.

Wharton Esherick is essential in this landscape. His passion for wood begins in high school where he learns woodcarving. However, he starts painting studies at the « Philadelphia Museum of Industrial Arts » and then at the « Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts ». Finally graduating, he decides to go to Paoli, in Pennsylvania, the state where George Nakashima and Phillip Lloyd Powell, two other great representatives of American Craft Studio, are also based. The nature is everywhere in Pennsylvanie and plays a leading role in the movement. He begins by making the frames of his own paintings but his natural skills inevitably leads him on the road to furniture creations. He is inspired by English Arts & Craft movement for the content and the style : focus on manual work and sublimate the actions of the creator to make curvilinear surfaces and organic forms. As the first representative of the « American Studio Craft » he is a revolutionary because he initiates an aesthetic and spreads a part of creation.

Wharton Esherick is a spearhead designing furnitures and interior decorations : the « Curtis Bok House » (1935-1937) is one of the most important example. He searches a subtle balance between a physical and expressionist approach of materials and a first-glance-understandable function. His works have a sensual sculpturality, a claimed asymmetry and a tender purity : he is a true virtuoso. He celebrates work of the hand and realizes all furniture himself in his studio behind his own house.

Wharton Esherick’s works are displayed in many internationally acclaimed museums, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The « Seiver Table » is a collector’s piece containing the entire state of mind of its creator thanks to its design. For Esherick’s career but also for the design history, this piece is extremely important •

CATALOG :

Unique flying table

WHARTON ESHERICK1956