The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs Joseph Cunningham, Bruce Barnes, Sarah Fayen

Publication date:
25 Nov 2008
Yale University Press
304 pages: 305 x 248mm
16 b-w + 321 color illus.
Sales territories:

A highly anticipated look at the life and work of one of turn-of-the-century America’s most creative and influential furniture designers

Charles Rohlfs (1853–1936) ranked among the most innovative furniture makers at the turn of the twentieth century. Praised by the international press and exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, his beautiful works grew out of an interesting mix of styles that included Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and proto-modernism. This book presents the first major study of this important American designer and craftsman, drawing upon new photographs and fresh sources of information.

Alongside traditional historical approaches, the book presents detailed formal, structural, and stylistic analyses of Rohlfs’s well-known masterpieces from major museums, together with lesser-known objects in public and private collections.  Topics include discovering the contribution of Rohlfs’s wife—mystery novelist Anna Katharine Green—to his designs; the far-ranging sources of his idiosyncratic motifs; his influence on Gustav Stickley’s designs; his commissioned interiors; his efforts at self-promotion and marketing; and his attempts to define a conceptual framework for his artistic endeavor. Handsomely designed and illustrated, the book also features a complete set of unpublished period illustrations of over seventy works. 

Joseph Cunningham is the curator of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation.  His publications include Design Is Not Art: Functional Objects from Donald Judd to Rachel Whiteread (2004). Bruce Barnes is founder and president of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation. Sarah Fayen is assistant curator of the Chipstone Foundation and adjunct assistant curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

"Charles Rohlfs . . . was active as [a] furniture designer for a relatively short time, but his influence has been quite extensive. This erudite and comprehensive biographical catalog explains how."—Maine Antique Digest

"Seductive visuals and worthy scholarship."—Town & Country

". . . [A] wealth of color and information. . . . a remarkably vivid portrait of a unique talent flourishing at one of those extraordinarily adventurous periods of transition . . . when there was a belief that design and art could transform society."— Interior Design Magazine