Correalistic Instrument and Rocker
Invited by Peggy Guggenheim in February 1942 to convert two 57th Street tailor shops into galleries for her already formidable collection of early modernist European art, visionary Austrian architect and artist Frederick Kiesler created what has come to be considered an architectural masterpiece, exploring radical new possibilities of exhibition design.
Kiesler’s theory of unity between art and environment led him to design three distinct gallery spaces, Abstract, Surrealist and Kinetic, the interiors of which were conceived as extensions of the imaginary space and content of the works of art themselves.
In the course of this comprehensive exhibition design Kiesler designed also the Correalist Instrument and Rocker. The entire theory of free tensions in space and of the relation between the user and the piece of furniture was manifested in the Correalist Instrument. The seemingly arbitrary amorphous form was founded on a strictly geometric design pattern. Circles inscribed in a trapezium defined the curving contour of the body. The basis of Rocker, in contrast, was a square defining the geometric structure for the circles and curves. This lent organic form to the furniture. The transformation of the seat furniture into an abstract, natural basic form provided the conditions for its additional functions. Kiesler recognized eighteen different possible uses. In connection with the theory of continuous tension in space, the piece of furniture fulfilled a far-reaching function and was an integral part of the architecture.
Re-Edition: Frederick Kiesler, Correalist Instrument and Rocker, in cooperation with Wittmann Möbelwerkstätten, 2002
Photo: Bernhard Angerer