March 5, 2008
Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series
DECORATIVE ARTS AND ARTISTIC TECHNIQUES
Furniture: luxury object or useful artifact
Dr. Mª Paz Aguiló.
Institute of History. CSIC
The use over the last couple of decades of the term artifact, which is increasingly used, especially in the Anglo-Saxon sphere, to generically refer to furniture, has led us to a series of reflections on the identity of the artifact and its characteristics, the problem of the aesthetic dimension of the artifact-object, the classical theories of Plato and Aristotle, as well as the characteristics of the work of art and its components in Western civilization. The theories of Hatcher and Danto, non-instrumentality and meaning, the difference between function and content and the premises for the conversion of an object into a work of art are presented. The concepts of the anthropology of art applied to furniture are also discussed: the distinction between cultured furniture and popular furniture, which contains aesthetic predicates such as grace, elegance and unity and which, despite its instrumentality, should not be considered an artifact. A review of the consideration of furniture from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century from this point of view, we will observe how its aesthetic evaluation influences its economic evaluation and how there was already a subject of furniture in southern Germany in the mid-sixteenth century, called sehr künstige, which prioritized the artificial and useless, placing at the opposite extreme the consideration of the bench of the Calvet house of Gaudí as a true work of art with its own personality.
Casa Calvet bench. A.Gaudi
The beginning of the evaluation of furniture as "decorative art" at the end of the 19th century, including in that concept the installations and interior decoration projects, leads us to the interest in investigating the appreciation of furniture in the 20th century.
Next, Dr. Aguiló reviewed the concept of furniture as a luxury object. Aguiló reviewed the concept of furniture as a luxury object, an aspect present from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, which reflects the sense of possession of something unique and enviable, its use as an expression of political, economic or intellectual power, which set the instructions of collecting, contrasting pieces of clear intentionality of ostentation with others in which beauty, originality, the quality of its design and innovation can be combined with factors of utility, rationality and comfort that can make them works of art.
Augsburg desk. 1620