DescriptionPHILIPPE HIQUILY (French, b. 1925)
Exceptional Office of Semi-Circular Form (Desk with Lamp), circa 1960
Transparent smoked altuglass with five gilt and hammered metal feet with ovoid lamp of flattened out and hammered gilt metal
85 x 33-1/2 x 39 inches (215.9 x 85.1 x 99.1 cm)
Commissioned from Hiquily by Teddy van Zuylen, Paris, circa 1960;
Galerie des Chevau-Légers (Commissaires-Priseurs Perrin, Royère, Lajeunesse), Versailles, June 27, 1985, lot 131;
Private collection, California.
Connaissance des Arts, 1985, p. 77, illus. in color (this desk);
P. Cabanne, Hiquily: Bronzes et Mobiliers, Paris, 2005, p. 84, illus. (this desk).
The French modernist sculptor, Philippe Hiquily, worked for a full decade creating abstract figurative sculpture before turning his attention in 1960 to making furniture from his favorite sculptural material: metal. Interestingly, the shift followed closely on the heels of a major honor which cemented his artistic prominence: in 1959 he won the prestigious Critic's Prize for sculpture at the Paris Biennial.
Although in the abstract, the concept of designing chairs and desks and tables would appear to be a radical departure from the creation of non-utilitarian sculpture, it was not--in Hiquily's case. His furniture, of which this custom-made altuglass and gilt metal desk is an outstanding early example from circa 1960, is an extension of his work in sculpture. In fact, Hiquily's choice to create furniture in an ambitious way ended up informing his later, even more technically challenging sculptural efforts. His seats and surfaces, where he intends for people to share food and drink, and perform their intellectual work, carry with them all of the artist's sculptural preoccupations and enthusiasms. His mobiliers are every bit as beautifully crafted, and as overtly erotic, as his sculptures which take as their point of departure, almost without fail, the human (female) body in sexually ecstatic positions. As one writer noted, Hiquily's furniture is "dream-like and surrealist in spirit."
This semicircular desk, created in 1961 for the businessman Teddy van Zuylen, creates an environment with two basic materials--smoked altuglass and gilt metal. The "legs" of the desk thicken as they approach the floor to become substantial feet upon which the ethereal transparent writing surface sits. To fully integrate the two materials which form discrete horizontal and vertical planes (one transparent and one opaque), Hiquily the sculptor pierces the surface of the desk with a narrowed extension of one of the legs. Once it penetrates the hole in the altuglass, the metal leg swells once again to form a neck bearing another enlarged form--the desk lamp containing an enormous eye. This element is as whimsical and surreal as a painting by Dali or Magritte, or a sculpture by Jean Tinguely whose atelier Hiquily frequented as a young artist. When illuminated, the glowing eye both literally and metaphorically sees and assists the person at the desk in seeing more clearly. Hiquily's artistry helps provide vision--or a vision--for the fortunate occupant of the desk.
Philippe Hiquily's work in sculpture and sculptural furniture is represented in numerous museums worldwide including, among others, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal.
Minor scratches on glass writing surface. Metal gilding lightly tarnished.
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2017 October 13 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas