Poul Kjærholm

June 26, 2006 /

Louisiana Museum
Humlebæk, Denmark
On view: July 25, 2006 - September 24, 2006

Photo: arcspaceIn the front the PK80 daybed

One of the most important figures in twentieth-century design.

The Poul Kjærholm exhibition is a unique opportunity to experience the full scope of the furniture artist's work and to explore the processes behind the concept development and design ideas that formed the basis for one of the most beautiful and seductive design oeuvres of the twentieth century.

Photo: arcspace

All his furniture designs, rare prototypes and models from private collections, ranging from his early experiments in laminated wood and aluminium, through his masterpieces in steel and leather, to the most recent works where he returned to the woodwork of his younger days, are presented. A wide selection of photos, original sketches and drawings are also included.

Photo courtesy Louisiana MuseumPKO, 1952 Laminated wood chair (working drawing)
Photo: arcspace

Poul Kjærholm (1929-1980) learned the craft traditions of woodwork as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker at the age of 15. He finished his apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker in 1948, after which he graduated from the Danish School of Arts and Crafts, where he had studied with the designer Hans J. Wegner, in 1952.
Kjærholm's graduation piece from the school was the PK25 lounge chair - his first masterwork combining steel with an organic approach to form, and this formed the basis for his other masterworks of the 1950s and 1960s.

Photo courtesy Fritz Hansen A/S

In 1955, after several years of experimenting, Kjærholm joined forces with E. Kold Christensen and established the firm that was to produce and market his new designs.

For the next 25 years Kjærholm produced a succession of pieces that combined modern materials with the highest standards of craftsmanship and a profoundly personal approach to detail and surfaces.

Photo: arcspaceSteel tube chair (prototype) with arm rests (1952)
Photo: arcspacePK20 (1968)
Photo: arcspaceBar stools for restaurant Kanalen, Copenhagen (1978)
Photo: arcspace

Many of these pieces, including the PK22 lounge chair and PK24 chaise longue, are still in production.

Photo: arcspacePK22 lounge chair
Photo: arcspacePK24 chaise longue
Photo: arcspace (from exhibition movie)Poul Kjærholm in PK24 chaise longue

Kjærholm was fascinated by modules, identical units that can be joined to create a larger object, and he applied this idea to his furniture.

The idea of the chair as the essential furniture module was extended to include architectural space with the seating for the Louisiana concert hall of 1976.

Photo: arcspace

Kjærholm constantly remained in the force field between aesthetic reflection and technical industrial potential, which he combined with geometrical abstraction and ergonomic form in a timeless, exclusive and unique design that still keeps his furniture among the most coveted and admired items on the market - 40 to 50 years after their creation.

In 2004 Kjærholm's furniture were selected to furnish the newly built Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

Photo: arcspace

In the years 1954-75 Kjærholm also worked as an exhibition architect. The long forgotten exhibition designs are shown in detail with original drawings, architectural photos, partial reconstructions, and a number of recently released architectural models.

photo: arcspace

Poul Kjærholm lived with his wife, architect Hanne Kjærholm, in a house north of Copenhagen designed by her.

The house, where Hanne Kjærholm still lives, was recently listed..

Photo courtesy Louisiana Museum
Photo: arcspace
Photo: arcspace

The exhibition, a collaboration between US architect Michael Sheridan and the Louisiana museum, is the first retrospective presentation of Poul Kjærholm's work as a furniture and exhibition architect and continues the series that began with Louisiana's earlier exhibitions of the two great Danish architects Arne Jacobsen (2001) and Jørn Utzon (2004).

A comprehensive catalog, edited by Michael Sheridan, with foreword by Louisiana director Poul Erik Tøjner, has been produced in connection with the exhibition. The catalog is available in both Danish and English.

Photo: arcspacePhoto: Keld Helmer-Petersen (PK91)


Louisiana Museum

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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