Paul Evans, Sculpted Steel Polychrome Coffee Table, USA, c. 1972
American furniture designer, sculptor, and artist Paul Evans, is one of the most recognizable and versatile figures in the American Craft Movement of the post-war period, and arguably the most collectible American furniture designer of the late 20th Century. Known for his innovative production techniques and experimental treatments in working with a variety of metals, Evans developed a distinct set of expressionist aesthetics that combined the pictographic collage-like compositions of modern artists such as Adolph Gottlieb and Louise Nevelson, with the raw naivety of the Brutalist movement. Whether it was one-of-a-kind commissioned Studio works or distinct lines produced for his collaboration with Directional Furniture, Evans’ furniture was anathema to the sleek, unadorned furniture designs that were permeating America and Europe, and continues to gain in popularity.
In 1961 Paul Evans and Phillip Lloyd Powell were invited to exhibit their work in Manhattan at America House, one of the earliest midcentury retail shops to specialize and educate the public to the value of American craft. Just like the MOMA Good Design shows of the same period, the America House exhibitions offered designer-craftsmen opportunities to display and market their work while also encouraging the acceptance of modern design in American culture.
Having seen the America House exhibition, B.G. Mesberg, founder of the popular furniture company Directional, hired Evans to create a line of handcrafted furniture based on his unique designs. Beginning in 1964, Directional began offering rigidly cubical pieces based on preset designs, which differed from the Paul Evans Studio pieces that were commissioned through a collaborative process with the client, rendering unique designs. With both his Studio works and Directional line, Evans sustained complete creative and quality control by personally overseeing his loyal production team and refusing to outsource labor.
Since the turn of the 21st Century, a fresh look at Evan’s extraordinary legacy has created a new appreciation for his unique designs, as well as a thriving market fueled by a passionate group of fervent collectors. In 2016, Wright Auctions broke the auction record for the highest price of Evans work, with the sale of a simple standing “Argente” cabinet for $293,000, well above its estimate. Just one year later, Rago Auctions transcended that record with the sale of a wavy hanging cabinet at $382,000.
|Dimensions||42 × 21 × 30.5 in|
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