FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Peter Blum is pleased to announce an exhibition of The Cornerstone Pews designed by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld. The exhibition is at 99 Wooster Street and will remain on view through February 1994. Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) was not only an important architect, he was also trained as a cabinetmaker. Throughout his life he designed furniture which - fulfilling the ideals of the De Stijl movement - also functioned as sculpture (for example the Red Blue Chair of 1918 and the Berlin Chair, 1923). Like his contemporaries and fellow De Stijl members Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, Rietveld worked toward rational design and the perfection of modular systems. By the end of his life, his exploration of purified forms and simple structures coincided with the emerging concepts espoused by the Minimalist artists in the early 1960’s. In his furniture design, Rietveld strove for “an outward appearance whose purpose is construction and use”. (Gerrit Rietveld, Chairs, article in the journal De werkende vrouw, 1930).
In 1960, Rietveld was asked to design a church for the growing parish of the Dutch Reformed Church in Uithoorn. Initially reluctant to accept a commision of a religious nature, he agreed to take on the project after reassurances that the building would play a prominent role in the community. Rietveld planned the space for a variety of uses - kindergarten, studios, theatre, offices - and the “Hoeksteen” (“Cornerstone”) Church became the focal point of cultural life in Uithoorn. Rietveld designed the building as well as all the furniture used in the church. All were crafted by a firm in Friedlan, Holland between 1963 and 1965. The pews on view here, available for the first time in the United States, are the originals from the Hoeksteen Church.
In 1984, because of decreasing membership, the Dutch Reformed Church sold the building to the city. The building became a public library and the interior was renovated. Most of the liturgical furnishings were acquired by the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo, the Central Museum Utrecht, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. A public and private collections in Europe - in their beauty and simplicity a stunning embodiment of Rietveld’s design principles. The seat and back of The Cornerstone Pews are made of Parana pine wood coated with a transparent white satin finish. The overall dimensions are: 85 ½ inches long, 25 ¼ inches deep, and 30 ¾ inches high (217 x 64 x 78 centimeters). Each pew seats four persons. The pew is supported by three steel rectangles (24 ½ x 18 ½ inches / 62 x 47 centimeters) painted dark blue.
For further information and photographs, please contact Peter Blum or Nancy Deihl at 212 343-0441. The space is located at 99 Wooster Street at Spring Street. Hours are Tuesday-Friday 10-6, Saturday 11-6, and Monday by appointment.