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Wright auction includes rarities of modern design

March 29, 2011 |  6:00 am

Wright, the Chicago auction house that focuses on 20th century furniture and art, has uncovered some rarities for its March 31 Modern design sale. The firm has acquired not only bronze Gazelle chairs by Dan Johnson and a desk by Roy McMakin, but also more than a dozen pieces -- many of them custom design and presumed designers' prototypes -- from the home of Henry Glass

Henry who? 

"Glass is somewhat obscure but was a beloved Chicago industrial designer who taught at the Art Institute," auction house owner Richard Wright said of Glass, who died in 2003 at age 92. "He designed thousands of things, the most famous being the Swingline collection of children's furniture for Fleetwood in the 1950s, which is really cool stuff."

Glass' collection included the 1955 table pictured above, a colorful and clever design by the protégé of early modern furniture designers Gilbert Rohde and Russel Wright. Each of the lacquered stools has two legs and calls upon a table support as a third leg. When the seats are not in use, they can be swung under the table. It's a cool design estimated to sell for a cool $2,000 to $3,000. 

109_1_520_520_90 Other sale highlights include about two dozen pieces by Swiss designer and Le Corbusier collaborator Pierre Jeanneret, including this 1955 sofa, left, created for a building in Chandigarh, India.

Departing from traditional architecture, the city was designed as "a grand urban planning experiment" by midcentury modernists, Wright said.

"There has been some controversy," he added, "because some buildings have been altered and destroyed and parts of this architectural legacy are being sold off by the government and sent out into the world."

Bidding for such historical pieces is not for the squeamish. On the low end, estimates for simple stools and writing chairs start at $3,000. This 4.5-foot-long upholstered teak sofa is expected to fetch $25,000 to $30,000.

This sale is the first of Wright's twice-yearly events and follows some interesting bidding on Wright's auction last June.

-- David A. Keeps

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Photo: Wright


Los Angeles Modern Auction results

Julien's Auctions' Slash sale