PIONEER IN FURNITURE DESIGN
At the Mishkin Gallery, Oct. 3 Oct. 30, 2003
reception: Thursday, Oct 2, 6-8 pm.
Free and open to the public.
Innovative designer and successful entrepreneur, Brooklyn-born Harvey Probber transformed the look of American furniture at mid-century. Known for his sleek modern lines and flexible modular units, Probber left an indelible stamp on the living rooms and dens of American families. The furniture he designed and produced for 40 years at his factory, Harvey Probber, Inc., first in New York and later in Fall River, Massachusetts, was elegant, up-to-date and beautifully adapted to the mobile, casual TV lifestyles that emerged in the U.S. during the post-World War II decades.
Since Probbers death in March of 2003, a re-evaluation of his design work and his influence on 20 th_ century style has begun. The Baruch College exhibition Harvey Probber: Modernist Furniture, Design and Graphics , at the Mishkin Gallery from Friday, October 3, through Thursday, October 30, 2003 , is part of that re-evaluation. Curated by Judith Gura and designed by Debra Magrid , the exhibition includes more than 30 pieces of furniture as well as his ink and watercolor living room designs and graphics. Another dimension, wholly non-utilitarian, of Harry Probbers work can be seen in his whimsical pen-and-ink drawings of chairs-as-people, caricatures Probber himself referred to as his recreational pauses.
A self-taught modernist, Probber had virtually no artistic training when, at the age of 16, he designed his first piecea sofa. The key to salvation was in bits and pieces of plane geometry, was how he characterized the source of his early inspirations. And it was those bits and pieces that led him to create the upholstered modular seating units that became a furniture industry phenomenon in the 1940s. Probbers output, however, included much more, including the elegant sling-back chair displayed by MoMA as well as numerous tables and storage units. Later in his career, Probber turned his attention to office furniture, where his influence was as pervasive as it was in home design. Probber modified the severely functional modernist look by his use of fine fabrics, laminated surfaces and tribal-influenced woven materials. Functional is not nearly enough, was Probbers credo.
A creative force in modern design, Probber also knew what would sell and never forgot the needs of his customers. A popularizer as well as an innovator, he never strayed too far into the realm of the theoretical, one reason his work did not always receive the acclaim it deserved.
The Mishkin Gallery is located at Baruch College, 135 E. 22 nd Street, New York City. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, noon to 5 pm, Thursday, noon to 7 pm.