The Art & Charlie Blog

Game of Chairs Part 1 - Take a seat to see

Game of Chairs Part 1 - Take a seat to see

From carved seats now found in ancient caves to decorated thrones used to indicate socio-political hierarchies to artists using its reference allegorically in their work, man and his four legged seat have had a curious relationship steeped in redesign and reinvention.

Until the nineteenth century it was common practice to paint chairs as furniture or mere objects for man to sit on. But towards the late nineteenth century, artists like Van Gogh, Matisse and Sargent started personifying this previously insignificant object as the main focus of their work.

David Hockney said, “I’ve always loved chairs. They have arms and legs, like people.” In his paintings, drawings, photo collages, and even sculptural installations, Hockney has returned repeatedly to the chair as a subject, using it as a stand-in for the human body, almost as though human presence was no longer necessary.

Cover Image: One and Three Chairs (1965), Joseph Kosuth. An example of conceptual art, the work consists of a chair, a photograph of the chair, and an enlarged dictionary definition of the word "chair".


1. Lorain Chair (1919), Henri Matisse

Matisse recognised that the view of a perception of a chair changes depending on how it is used, and what is placed upon the chair.


2. Van Gogh's chair (1888), Vincent Van Gogh

His simple chair sits empty, symbolic of its absent owner, and is an image that is infinitely sad.


3. Andy Warhol- Electric Chair (1971) 

The distortion on the prints brings the image to life, and seems to mimic a vibrating effect.


4. David Hockney- Gaugin's Chair, (1988)

It is a still life, a portrait and an artistic homage to Van Gogh’s Gauguin's Chair 1988. This version of Gauguin’s Chair suggests a particularly deadpan portrait, as if the absent body of the painter is boldly facing the viewer, the ‘limbs' of the chair angled with a gentle sense of insouciance.


We want to know which artist’s chair first comes to mind for you. Share your favourite chair artwork as a story and tag us so we can re-share !

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