Arad is a specimen as interesting as his creations; he is the quintessential adherent to the school of “art for art’s sake” with a slight dash of the hardened businessman. I finally found him wedged between the kaleidoscope-colored revolving doors at the MOMA’s back entrance and a shiny metal stand, a box whose presence I had not yet attributed to any discernable function, save for the unfortunate capture of Mr. Arad. I walked cautiously; he was engaged in conversation with a rather frantic man, who was rifling through the pages of what can only be defined as a tome.
“Here, here we are, right here please,” the man entreated, silent beads of sweat now forming on an animated brow.
A silver pen emerged from nowhere and Arad studiously bent over his own book. I can only imagine his thoughts as I made immediate eye contact upon his emergence: “Oh no, not another one.”
I briskly introduced myself and conducted a fragmented interview; if my notes could be translated musically, it would be entirely staccato; each question was interrupted by Arad’s penchant to jump up and bid farewell to those he knew which, of course, was everyone. “Ciaos, Au revoirs, and Goodbyes,” fired into the air, and I wondered how many languages this man knew.
“Okay, where were we;” he asked, finally turning to me with a mixture of expectation and brusque appraisal vying for space on his visage.
“Nowhere,” I stammered, taken completely off-guard.
Arad is a man absolutely uninterested in mundane questioning. When asked about the recession, his clientele, and the artistic sentiment fueling his New York exhibit, Arad answered tangentially. He directed me to what he really wanted to discuss—creation. “This was a challenge for me,” he explained. “When we finished [the exhibit] we knew it was good. It’s not about people’s homes; it’s about ideas, other delights. It doesn’t have to be purely commercial. I don’t make art for the world or because of it, though some of the things I do are done according to the economy of means. Some [pieces] are extremely time-consuming, and the labor gives employment to people who make it. Art comes and goes, though some of these things will outlive the recession, I hope.”
Arad merely seeks to innovate, to experiment with new materials in the creation of something new, something interesting, something absolutely transient. The idea that each piece is a product of creative evolution, and that the collaborative effort implied is a product of the artist’s own experience of the past, present and his personal prophecy of the future, is fascinating. For furniture designers, I always wondered at their impression of the interior designer—what can they think of a man who sources pieces to support a personal vision, dictated by the strictures of time, space and unfortunate client tastes?
Luckily my friend Louise Levin, a generous patron of the arts, routed out the perfect man to ask— iconic American furniture designer and cultural scion Wendell Castle. “Furniture is art,” he replied from wonderfully round glasses, rimmed at the bottom in a perfect, thick red crescent. “I have no faith in interior design.”
The love affair between the artist and his chair, then, however fleeting, is a passion like any other—it consumes. It heeds no superficial boundaries, and is only complete once the energy of both is exhausted in mutual derision and affection.
A chair, I suppose, is never really just a chair.