Moderne Gallery Examines the Designing Nature of George Nakashima

Antiques and the Arts Weekly
Tuesday, 29 May, 2001

PHILADELPHIA, PENN. - In Moderne Gallery's third major exhibition of the vintage works of George Nakashima, Robert Aibel once again demonstrates his commitment to developing and maintaining the level of knowledge and interest in the work of this legendary and highly influential Japanese-American master craftsman (1905-1990).

The exhibition and sale "George Nakashima: Designing Nature" will be on display June 15 through September 15 at Moderne Gallery, 111 North Third Street. The show expands on the Nakashima works regularly shown in a special gallery space at Moderne, and focuses on the contribution made by George Nakashima through his unique approach to the interaction and juxtaposition of the "natural" and "design" elements of his furniture.

Moderne Gallery owner and director Aibel has brought together an exceptional selection of chairs, dining tables, end and coffee tables, chests, desks, buffets, benches and beds for the show. Approximately 40 pieces will be on display and available for purchase.

Because of his long-term relationship with collectors and museums, Aibel has become a prime source of information on Nakashima furniture and market trends. Moderne Gallery stocks the largest continuing selection of vintage Nakashima pieces, and is known for maintaining the integrity of the market. Aibel handles only authentic pieces with provenance and constantly searches out the rare, unknown and unusual.

The work of George Nakashima has been exhibited and sold at Moderne Gallery since 1985, though this was not widely known until the Gallery's 1994 show and sale, "Zen Modernism: The Furniture of George Nakashima." In 1998 the gallery initiated a joint project with Nakashima Studio titled "The Nakashima Tradition: Origins and Continuity." The exhibits were greeted with great enthusiasm and visited by thousands of people.

"I expect that long-time collectors will appreciate the quality and the variety of work on display in the 'Designing Nature' exhibit as well as the enduring appeal of George Nakashima's eye for great wood, his originality and his extraordinary craftsmanship," says Aibel.

"Though prices have consistently and dramatically risen over the past ten years, these one-of-a-kind pieces are always in demand," he pointed out. Today the furniture of George Nakashima is one of the most important and growing vintage markets in the US.

Planned to run concurrently with "Designing Nature" at Moderne, an exhibit at The Nakashima Studio in New Hope, Penn., titled "The Keisho Collection: Continuity and Change in the Nakashima Tradition," will present the work of Mira Nakashima-Yarnell. The pieces on exhibit are selected from the recently published catalogue of the "Keisho" collection (meaning "continuation" in Japanese). This is the first catalogue of works solely designed by and produced under the supervision of Nakashima-Yarnall.

At the same time, works by Nakashima may also be seen at the exhibition "George Nakshima and the Modernist Moment" at James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Penn. (June 9 to September 16). Robert Aibel assisted the Nakashima family with locating and appraising vintage works for the Michener exhibition.

Also at Moderne Gallery June 15 through September 15 will be "The Constructed Canvas: String Paintings by David Roth," an exhibition and sale marking the re-emergence of David Roth's string paintings from the 1970s and 80s, his most important work.

Gallery hours are 12 pm to 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday; telephone, 215-923-8536.