At Chamber, Maarten Baas Burns Through Design’s Modern Past

THE DAILY PIC: By scorching an icon by Gerritt Rietveld, Baas moves beyond it.


(Photo by Fran Parente)

THE DAILY PIC (#1523): In 2000, when Maarten Baas came up with the idea of burning old furniture to give it new life as modern design, he launched one of the most compelling series of the new millennium. It reached its apotheosis, however, in the new chair I’m Pic-ing today, which was made for a group show curated by the photographer Andrew Zuckerman at Chamber design gallery in New York. It’s one thing to scorch a dumpy old club chair. It’s quite another to carbonize a Gerrit Rietveld Zig Zag, one of the signature pieces of 20th-century design. It’s an especially daring move given that Baas is Dutch and Rietveld is a god in the Netherlands.

This means that Baas has gone beyond finding a new way to create a compelling surface and look, with a clever backstory. The modest symbolism in the earliest Where There’s Smoke pieces becomes almost a manifesto with this one: Designers need to adopt scorched-earth tactics to finally free themselves from the clichés of their modernist past.

Does the new piece show Baas doing that, or is it still caught in the orbit of the modern?

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics