The Chair

Maker and role
Artist: Fannie Hillsmith, American, 1911-2007
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Object detail

Collage with cut-paper, found objects, and graphite
sheet, 19 x 12 1/2in (48.3 x 31.8cm)
Credit line
Museum purchase with funds from Alice C. Simkins
Accession number
Further information
Have you ever been to somebody's house when they've just left? You feel their house; you feel them in it, in the ticking of the clock, a drawn window shade. Every object has something of a person in it. - Fannie Hillsmith, 1954

Hillsmith's wonderful collage The Chair represents the staying power of Cubism. Though created in 1960, the work would have looked right at home hanging next to works by Picasso and Braque in 1912. There is the same sens of an everyday object being deconstructed and put back together in a way that suggests the object's existence in space, but also abstracts it to the point where it dissolves into pure form. In other words, you can read it as a chair or as a play of lines and shapes.

Making the composition a bit more personal is the addition of a several museum passes as well as a ticket for a lecture by the English poet Edith Sitwell. For Hillsmith, there was always something very personal about a chair as it suggested the presence of a human form. The inclusion of the tickets, perhaps from a European tour, makes this collage a kind of self-portrait.
Subject period


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