True to its ethos, Gufram , the Italian “radical design brand” continues to publish and promote timeless design icons. A new version of MAgriTTa, a chair designed in 1970 by Sebastian Matta (1911–2002), was recently released.
Made from polyurethane foam and upholstered in bouclé wool, the MAgriTTA sculpture chair is a tribute to surrealism. It symbolizes both a green apple and a black bowler hat – recurring figurative elements in the works of the famous Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte . Of course, MAgriTTA is reminiscent of Magritte’s most famous painting, “The Son of Man” from 1964.
“At least it hides the face somewhat well, so you have the obvious face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden face of the person. This is something that happens all the time. Everything we see hides something else, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in what is hidden and what the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a rather intense feeling, a kind of conflict, one might say, between the visible, which is hidden, and the visible, which is represented,” Magritte wrote about the painting.
Playing with the unexpected association “is there an apple in a hat?”, as well as the spatial paradox of “is the apple the size of a hat or is the hat the size of an apple?” Matta managed to translate the deception, joke and illusion of Magritte’s painting into an object of design. The ABS plastic hat acts as a structure, and the apple, made of soft polyurethane foam and upholstered in elastic fabric, becomes a comfortable and soft seat. The name MAgriTTA, written with a distinctive use of upper and lower case letters, combines the surnames Matta and Magritte.
The Chilean architect, artist and designer Roberto Sebastian Matta was the protagonist of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century: in Paris he found himself among the outstanding personalities of surrealism; at the beginning of World War II influenced the birth of Abstract Expressionism in New York; after the war he returned to Europe and settled in Italy, where he played the role of a link between abstract expressionism and Italian abstractionism. His work is presented at MOMA in New York, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts in San Francisco and the National Art Gallery in Rome.
In addition to the classic version with green upholstery, Gufram has painted the MAgriTTA in yellow and red. “I’m not a big fan of tributes: I always feel like they’re an excuse to take credit for someone else’s fame and creative intuition,” says Charlie Vezza, head of Gufram. “But obviously that’s not the case with Sebastian Matta: he didn’t need to nothing to appropriate, since he already had great fame and creative intuition. In fact, MAgriTTA is not a celebration of Magritte’s work and figure, but rather the transformation into a three-dimensional object of a symbol that did not exist in such a form in his art. Matta, as if in a magic trick, took an apple from a hat, sublimated the work of a great artist and turned it into a design icon.”