from the JF Chen Collection
Stability, Utility, and Beauty
It is with great pleasure that Marta & JF Chen present the aptly-titled STOOLS, a multi-site exhibition of historic furniture works distributed between Marta’s Echo Park gallery and the C–Project space of Joel Chen’s legendary showroom circuit in Hollywood. Borne of an invitation to curate a presentation from Chen’s exceptional collection, STOOLS is a celebration of the innovative and varied craftsmanship and manufacture of these versatile, everyday objects.
For ages, stools and their ad hoc stand-ins have punctuated the realms of public and private life. We envision their station in the corner of a pantry or beside a hearth just as easily as beneath a bar or at the center of a stage (used both as a perch for the performer and a surface for the performer’s water glass). Stools are highly-functional, commonly portable devices that deftly navigate the worlds of work and rest while accenting the spaces they inhabit, calling attention to their Vitruvian embodiment of stability, utility, and beauty.
Chen’s collection—instinctually built over decades from a diversity of sources, and ever-subject to change via to the push-and-pull of the collecting and purchasing habits of both he and his patrons—comprises countless examples of this firmitas / utilitas / venustas trinity. Distilled over the course of the exhibition’s planning, the 120+ stools ultimately on view act as a subjective portrait of the diverse expressions of a universally understood object—a snapshot of a collection at a point-in-time. In turn, they honor the discerning eye of Chen himself, who has amassed an anthology of works with extraordinary provenance, many of which were first or further illuminated through the tandem research and curatorial processes of its dual hosts.
STOOLS and its contents are artful reminders that, despite immediate recognition of form—the identification of a stool, as such—there is no single language of creation or fabrication. We know an object is for sitting because the spirit of its design invites the body to do so. Through this intuitive dialogue, the stool becomes a mirror in which the everyday is reflected, observed, and made endlessly new.