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Robert Venturi
(b. United States, 1925)
and Denise Scott Brown (b. Zambia, 1931)

Queen Anne Chair, designed 1979-84; manufactured by
Knoll International, Inc. since 1984

Molded multiplex and laminated plastic
Gift of Tyra Byers, Patricia Gebhard Estate

Robert Venturi is one of the chief theorists of Postmodernism. He famously countered Mies van der Rohe’s Modernist slogan “less is more” with “less is a bore.” Venturi and his wife together conceived of this Queen Anne, whose silhouette is inspired by an early-18th-century British chair. The design printed on the surface is the “Grandmother” pattern, consisting of two superimposed decorative schemes: a beloved tablecloth that belonged to a colleague’s grandmother, and black diagonal dashes, perhaps a quotation from Jasper Johns’s (b. 1930) paintings. Venturi and Scott Brown integrate a historical sensibility with modern materials and technologies. Wide and flat from the front, this chair is paradoxically thin in profile, like many of the mid-century modern pieces in this gallery, revealing the multiple layers that make up the plywood. According to the designers, the Queen Anne Chair is simultaneously modern and traditional, a witty commentary on breaking from the past while borrowing from it.