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Robert Stadler is having a bit of a moment this spring and summer in New York. The Paris-based Austrian designer will have three exhibitions including: “Weight Class”, a solo exhibition at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, (April 27-June 24); “Solid Doubts” at The Noguchi Museum curated by Dakin Hart (April 25-September 3); and “Waiting Room: Noguchi/Stadler” an installation at the fifth annual edition of Collective Design (May 3 – 7). Stadler spoke with Whitewaller about his “Cut_Paste” series, on view at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, and his love/hate relationship with the modern era.
WHITEWALLER: You have described your “Cut_Paste” series as the remains of modern architecture or a construction site. How did you arrive at that reference point?
ROBERT STADLER: It is the result of a love/ hate relationship toward the modern era. I am of course influence by it and it somehow still is a reference for a lot of artists and designers. But then I also think it’s time get rid of this ghost. By embodying this in-between moment through a theoretical, ultra-sophisticated recycling process, “Cut_Paste” is an invitation to move on.
WW: Why did you want these furniture pieces to appear haphazardly assembled at first?
RS: The approach for this project is part of an ongoing series of my works questioning the notions of authorship, authenticity, and randomness and control. Many of my pieces play with the appearance of a random form. The idea is to confront the user with the idea of randomness that is, in reality, obviously constructed and thus controlled.
WW: How did that determine the material you wanted to work with? Why work in a variety of different colored slabs of marble?
RS: There was the idea to tackle the notion of (good) taste. Is it okay to mix such different kind of marbles, which also come with different connotations? Travertine is a humble and elegant material that was used by masters such as Carlo Scarpa. Onyx, on the other hand, even if it was very chic in the twenties, is today often used in tacky luxury interiors. Mixing them all together confronts us with a different image, and the usual connotations all go out of the window.
WW: Can you tell us about your show at The Noguchi Museum and how you see your work in conversation with Isamu Noguchi?
RS: I was as much honored as I was surprised when the invitation for this two- man show came. The more conversations we had with Dakin, the more he revealed— despite the obvious differences—strong parallels between Noguchi’s work and my own. The main one is precisely reflected in the title I chose for the exhibition, “Solid Doubts”—doubts that a line has to be drawn between sculpture and furniture, doubts that the practical function should separate art from design, doubts that the everyday is design-wise a given. Only formal similarities have systematically been avoided.
WW: Your practice occupies and explores this space between preciousness and lowliness. Has that always been a point of interest for you in art and design?
RS: I’d say in contemporary art nobody even mentions this anymore. The high/ low dialectic is a well-established notion. In design, and in particular with the works proposed by design galleries as opposed to mass production, this is unfortunately still an issue. People who are ready to pay the price for a limited-edition design piece often need to be reassured through precious materials and excellence in craftsmanship.
This article appears in the spring 2017 Whitewaller New York issue out next week for Frieze New York.
“Solid Doubts” at the Noguchi museum is part of Oui Design, a program developed by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.