Jack of All Trades
Jack Brogan, Master Fabricator
As a fabricator working in Southern California, Jack Brogan was revered among artists including Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, and Robert Irwin for his deeply disciplined and soulful approach to making. Art in America described Brogan as the "right-hand man for an entire generation of California Light & Space artists."
Arriving to Los Angeles in 1958, the Tennessee-born Brogan first worked making cabinetry and restoring antiques and went on to design and build custom furniture for hotel lobbies and offices. He built models and prototypes for Knoll Furniture and worked to solve production obstacles for Herman Miller's Eames designs. Brogan's furniture business was plenty profitable, and he was initially hesitant to take on artists as clients. In the late 1960s, however, the newfound interest in industrial materials like plastic, acrylic, and resin proved too tempting for Brogan to resist. "I had experience working with these types of materials," Brogan remembered, "but I didn’t get to use that knowledge with most of my other jobs. I was making money, but the work was boring."
Robert Irwin first encountered Brogan at a local taqueria, and not long after Irwin enlisted him to help with a forthcoming acrylic sculpture. Word quickly got around that Brogan could do pretty much anything. "People started to say, 'Why don’t you go to Brogan? He’ll figure out how to do that,'" Brogan recalled. His roster of artist-clients grew to include Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Chris Burden, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, Ed Moses, Helen Pashgian, and many, many others. In 2012, Katherine Cone Gallery mounted the three-part exhibition You Don't Know Jack: From the Collection of the Foremost Ultimate Artist Enabler dedicated to Brogan and his prodigious contributions to art and design. “Today... fabricators are a dime a dozen," reflected the critic Christopher Knight,"but [Brogan] is one in a million.”
Gerrit Rietveld 1888–1964
Gerrit Rietveld was a celebrated designer and architect, famous for bringing the principles of the De Stijl Movement to these disciplines. Rietveld was born in 1888 in Utrecht, Netherlands to a family of cabinetmakers and later studied drafting and architecture. Rietveld opened his own furniture studio in 1917 and soon after became involved with the De Stijl Movement. In 1918, he designed his now-famous Red Blue armchair, which was heralded as a distillation of the movement’s emphasis on geometry, primary colors and an objective language of forms. He regarded this chair, and others he would design, as “spatial creations,” rather than simply furniture. The Schröder House in Utrecht, designed by Rietveld in 1924, is regarded as the architectural embodiment of the ideals of De Stijl and his most important work. In 1928, Rietveld distanced himself from De Stijl and became concerned with the challenges of affordable housing. He was a visionary in designing prefabricated and standardized buildings, of which the architectural world would not consider more seriously until the 1950s. In the 1930s and 1940s, Rietveld largely worked on private commissions and designed enduring modernist icons such as the Crate chair and Zig Zag chair, both from 1934. His last major work before his death in 1964 was the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which was completed in 1973.
Auction Results Gerrit Rietveld