Sam Maloof Rocking Chair

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Sam Maloof, Rocking Chair, Walnut and ebony 1998

Sam Maloof, Rocking Chair, Walnut and ebony 1998

The Southern California-based woodworker Sam Maloof was one of the leading figures in the postwar studio furniture movement in America. His all-wood rockers, of which this 1998 version is an exceptionally fine example, are considered among the classics of mid-century design. Combining his inventive interpretation of a traditional form, celebration of natural materials, and embrace of hand-workmanship, they represent the epitome of the mid-century designer-craftsman ethos. Early in his career Maloof was encouraged to produce prototypes for the furniture industry, but hand-craftsmanship and a direct one-on-one relationship with his client became of paramount importance to him. He declared, “I want to be able to work a piece of wood into an object that contributes something beautiful and useful to everyday life. And I want to do this for an individual I can come to know as a friend. Each time someone who has one of my pieces sits on a chair, uses a table, or opens a chest, I want that person to know that it was made just for him and that there is satisfaction and enjoyment in the object for us both.” Approximately thirty examples of Maloof’s furniture will be featured in the exhibition The House That Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945–1985, on view at the Huntington from September 24 to January 30, 2012, and planned to coincide with the Getty-sponsored initiative, Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980.

Harold B. Nelson
Curator of American Decorative Arts
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
San Marino, California