Photo: Patrick Alan Banfield

Installation view at Städelschule, Frankfurt, 2012

A Biedermaier chair from 1835 was reworked by a master cabinetmaker from the Palatinate region of Germany and covered with 24-carat gold and silver painted ribbons. An HMI film spotlight illuminates the chair, making it the star of the show.

Corpus / Something, 2012
Sculpture, installation
Biedermeier chair (1835), reworked with golden straps, HMI lamp

Courtesy: Patrick Alan Banfield


The installation „Corpus / Something“ consists of a white-grey base (1.20m*1.20m*45cm), an HMI daylight lamp (575 watts) normally used on film sets, focused on a reworked Biedermeier chair standing on the base. The chair comes from southern Germany, is made of walnut, parts of the backrest are veneered; it is a typical middle-class chair as you would find in a Biedermeier living room at that time. E.g. in a teacher’s flat. It is about 165 to 185 years old, circa 1835. Typical of the chair are the smooth, shellac polished surface and also the relatively reduced ornamentation compared to the fancy, curved aesthetic of a Baroque chair.

The chair was reworked in collaboration with a master carpenter from the small town of Altdorf in the Southern Palatinate (German Wine Route). Some wooden parts were cut off so that the straps could be placed directly on the seat underneath the traditional seat. Normally one would put a seat cushion on the frame. The carpenter also repaired some woodworm damage. There are still many worm holes on the legs of the chair, which we did not want to remove as we did not want to restore the chair, but refurbish it. Nevertheless, many wood scratches were removed and the chair was polished several times with shellac.

The result is an artificial wooden body with cross-stretched bands coated with gold and silver lacquer. The coating process was done with real gold (24ct.) and silver lacquer (painter’s gold lacquer). The straps are therefore not themselves made of gold and silver, but only lacquered. The colour scheme of gold and silver is often associated with the Baroque era. During the Baroque period, furnishings were designed to convey wealth through the use of luxurious materials such as gold leaf and faux silver, and through the introduction of rounded edges and curved ornaments that look „close to heaven“.

Installation view at Städelschule, Frankfurt, 2012

Installation view at Städelschule, Frankfurt, 2012

Photo: Max Eicke

Installation view at Städelschule, Frankfurt, 2012