Celeste Roberge

2008 Hearst Fellow
Sculptor
South Portland, ME

www.celesteroberge.com

Research at AAS: Granite Sofa

 

Title: Granite Sofa
Date: 2010
Medium: Pink granite, 4000 pounds, 3 parts
Dimensions: 38" x 93" x 27" overall
Current Location: On loan to Martha Stewart, installed in the foyer of her summer home in Seal Harbor Maine

I went to AAS in search of images from American 18th and 19th century culture that might parallel the genre of the reclining female in European paintings from the same period that had inspired my series of sculptures titled "STACKS" where I embedded chaise lounges, sofas, recamiers, and daybeds in walls of dry-stacked stone.

My research in early American furniture at the AAS archives led me to the work of Samuel McIntire, a renowned Salem, Massachusetts architect, sculptor and designer and likely the carver of a Federalist period Grecian Sofa that is now in the collection of the Winterthur Museum & Country Estate, one of the preeminent museums of early American furniture in the country. After reading Dean Lahikainen's book on McIntire's oeuvre I became convinced that the Grecian Sofa had to be carved in pink granite as a monument to the McIntire sofa, to the Federalist style, to McIntire and other American craftsmen, to Elizabeth Derby and her daughter, the patrons who probably commissioned the original sofa. My residency at AAS was followed by a trip to the Winterthur where I met with the director of licensed products and began a long process of negotiation to obtain the licensing agreement to reproduce the sofa in granite.

 

My decision to reproduce the Grecian Sofa was coupled with the selection of pink granite as the carving material because granite was essential to the development of early American architecture, monument-making, urbanization and economic development. Through the transformation of materials, recreating the McIntire Grecian sofa in pink granite is a type of monumentalization of the domestic with a stone material used more traditionally in public buildings. There is only one original of this particular sofa, though there are variations, and because that original is protected from use in a museum, the general public cannot have the experience of sitting on it an fulfilling its utilitarian function as a piece of furniture. Paradoxically, my sofa is a sculpture, as well as a functioning object, because of its potential real use as furniture and its significance as an aesthetic/social/political object. Granite Sofa was carved by Russ Kaufman at Freshwater Stone in Orland, Maine in 2009/2010

 

Granite Sofa was carved by Russ Kaufman at Freshwater Stone in Orland, Maine in 2009/2010 and was exhibited in the lobby of the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine from 2010 to 2015. It is currently on loan to Martha Stewart, installed in the foyer of her summer home in Seal Harbor, Maine.

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