George Nakashima: Designing Nature

at Moderne Gallery, Philadelphia: June 15 - September 15, 2001


(April 2001)

Philadelphia, PA (April 2001)…In the 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 from June 15 through September 15, 2001 at Moderne Gallery, 111. N. Third Street, Philadelphia, PA (215-923-8536 or www.modernegallery.com). 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/director Robert Aibel brings together an exceptional selection of chairs, dining tables, end and coffee tables, chests, desks, buffets, benches and beds for the George Nakashima: Designing Natureshow. Approximately 40 pieces will be on display and available for purchase.

Because of his long-term relationships 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 the 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 Moderne Gallery initiated a joint project with The Nakashima Studio titled "The Nakashima Tradition: Origins and Continuity." These exhibits were greeted with great enthusiasm and visited by thousands of people.

Most importantly, these projects led to a closer and very rewarding friendship with Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, George's daughter - a superb designer in her own right," says Aibel. "Like Mira, I hope that exhibits at the Moderne Gallery and at The Nakashima Studio will lead a larger audience to experience and understand anew the many levels of the work of George Nakashima."

"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 10 years, these one-of-a-kind pieces are always in demand."Today the furniture of George Nakashima is one of the most important and growing vintage markets in the U.S.

Aibel notes that younger, newer buyers have also been an important audience for the work as they are drawn into the beauty and workmanship of the "natural elements" that they can see and touch - and can live with easily, whatever their lifestyle. "All Nakashima furniture is at once spiritually evocative, physically beautiful and functional," he says.

A nationally recognized gallery specializing in Art Deco, Art Moderne and classics of 20th Century design, Moderne Gallery has for many years been one of the major resources for buying and selling the furniture of George Nakashima. Nakashima furniture from the Moderne Gallery has been featured in several national magazines and newspapers.

Always an admirer, Aibel began selling Nakashima furniture shortly after the Gallery first opened in 1984. He now devotes a special space to George Nakashima and continues to develop mutual interests with the Nakashima family.

"I am pleased and excited to encourage Mira in her own design work," adds Aibel. "The continuity of the Nakashima tradition is clear in her new work, but it is also evident that she brings her own approach to the interaction of 'nature' and 'design.'"

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

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