Around the table: Art and Design

Awhile ago I came across the beautifully solemn photographs of empty tables by Bruce Wolf. Initially I found myself captivated by the dramatic light within the photographs, but as I continued to look at them I became intrigued with the untold/unseen narrative that felt so present, even in an empty room. I then began to realize that the empty table held cultural significance and represented human interaction. Though no human interaction is taking place in the photos the table sits in a transitory state between possible human narratives. The table is a place of gathering and communion, meals are eaten there, discussions take place, and celebrations unfold; we experience both love and loss around the table. It is a piece of furniture that has been part of every household for hundreds of years and will continue to be part of our everyday lives for many years to come. For centuries the table has been represented in art, from illustrative etchings in the 16th century to contemporary oil paintings and its essential design has remained the same as well. It is apparent that this mundane object has a tremendous cultural significance, it is an object that brings us together as humans.


Bruce Wolf, Empty Spaces   {Bruce Wolf Studio}

The table in art…


State Banquet.—Serving the Peacock.—Fac-simile of a Woodcut in an edition of Virgil, folio, published at Lyons in 1517


Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) The girl with a wineglass, oil on canvas, 1659-1660


Willem Claeszoon Heda (1594-1680) Breakfast, oil on canvas


Antonio Lopez Garcia, The Table, 89 x 101cm, 1971-80

Table design through the ages…


Bronze Roman table or stand with circular top, from the Temple of Isis at Pompeii, before ad 79


Walnut table with wrought-iron stretchers, Spain, early 17th century.

Design for a library table by Thomas Sheraton, engraving from his book, The Cabinet-Maker, Upholsterer and General Artist’s Encyclopaedia (1805)
The Noguchi Table, Isamu Noguchi, 1947, wood base, glass top
advertisement circa. 1940
A Chicago house designed by Richard Himmel in the late 1960s features polyurethane floors and furnishings in Plexiglas, vinyl and chrome. The light palette sets off a collection of Oriental cinnabar and a painting by Frank Stella.
Farrow & Ball, 2011

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