© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Former Bauhaus student Marcel Breuer designed the first version of this chair in 1925, the year he was appointed master of the school’s cabinet-making workshop. Inspired by the curved handlebars of his bicycle, Breuer had begun to explore tubular steel as a material suited to both modern furniture design and industrial production. Radically updating the old form of the upholstered club chair, Breuer created a light and visually transparent composition of intersecting lines and planes that evokes abstract geometric sculpture. The popularity of his metal furniture led Breuer to establish his own firm, Standard Möbel, which in 1929 was purchased by Thonet, the manufacturer of this chair. The original Eisengarn (iron yarn) fabric panels are now lost and have been replaced with a modern version of the sturdy, functional material. Samples of the original fabrics produced in the Bauhaus textile workshop can be found in the museums’ collections.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
BR48.27
People
Marcel Breuer, American (Pecs, Hungary 1902 - 1981 New York, N.Y., USA)
Manufactured by Thonet, Inc.
Title
Club Chair (B3)
Other Titles
Alternate Title: "Wassily Chair"
Classification
Furniture
Work Type
chair
Date
designed 1925, manufactured 1929-1932
Places
Creation Place: Europe, Germany
Culture
German
Location
Level 1, Room 1520, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art in Germany Between the Wars
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Nickel-plated steel tubing and modern canvas
Dimensions
75.5 x 76.2 x 68 cm (29 3/4 x 30 x 26 3/4 in.)
steel tube diameter: 2 cm (13/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: left edge, lower back fabric panel, white chalk, handwritten: RM
Provenance
[Thonet] sold; to private collector (c. 1932-1948) gift; to the Busch-Reisinger Museum.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Anonymous gift
Accession Year
1948
Object Number
BR48.27
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
This model is a variation of Breuer's tubular steel chair that was produced by Thonet between 1929 and 1932. The particularities of this version are the crossbar at the base of the frame and a bowed strut underneath the seat. (The strut stabilizes the hanging seat in contrast to the front bar on the frame of Breuer's version.) See Alexander von Vegesack, Deutsche Stahlrohrmöbel. Munich: Bangert Verlag, 1986, p.72.
The narrower back is inside the structural frame. (In Breuer's version it is outside the frame. The chair is comprised of 8 tubular metal parts, 14 six-headed screws, and 7 panels of fabric. (K. Mims, 7/12/02 )
Publication History

Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 48, ill.

Exhibition History

From Werkbund to Bauhaus: Art and Design in Germany 1900-1934, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge

A Tribute to Walter Gropius, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 05/16/1983 - 07/01/1983

HAA 1 Survey Course (S421): Landmarks of World Art and Architecture [Spring 2009], Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/12/2009 - 05/10/2009

HAA 1 Survey Course (S421): Landmarks of World Art and Architecture (Spring 2010), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/05/2010 - 05/09/2010

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 01/01/2050

The Bauhaus and Harvard, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/08/2019 - 07/28/2019

Subjects and Contexts

The Bauhaus

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu