I Sat in the Saarinen Chair

The Saarinen chair at the Met

The 1956 Saarinen Tulip chair at the Met

If you’ve been to the Metropolitan Museum’s Modern Design gallery on the first floor, you’ve seen the iconic Eero Saarinen chair sitting on its platform at the back of the gallery with a “do not sit” sign prominently displayed.

Too bad you aren’t down in Wilmington, North Carolina at the Cameron Art Museum, where a tribute to three famous local artists provides you with an opportunity not only to sit in one, but at a Saarinen table with four of them, all surrounded by classy contemporary art in a setting only an artist can create. It’s a recreation of Claude Howell’s apartment 44, collecting and making art and holding salons for his entire life. Check out the Flickr photos of his fantastic place (yes, it’s a recreation, right down to the views of the Cape Fear River outside!).

The Cameron invites you to sit down to enjoy Claude Howell’s beloved Saarinen set

The Cameron invites you to sit down to enjoy Claude Howell’s beloved Saarinen set

It’s part of the fantastic tribute “From Gatehouse to Winehouse” that is extended to April 14. Besides Claude’s apartment, the curators have also built the ramshackle botanical garden gatehouse where Minnie Evans sold tickets and created her visionary masterworks from 1948 to 1974. (By the 1970s, her work was displayed at the Whitney.) Take a look. The surrounding gallery walls are filled with projected “visions” and crayon drawings hung on a line. The third studio belongs to mysterious, mystical woman of the 1920s, Elisabeth Chant (and Claude’s art teacher.)

Claude at home in his salon-studio. Source: Cameron Art Museum

Claude at home in his salon-studio. Source: Cameron Art Museum

Enjoy seeing how Claude lived and worked with his museum-quality dining set, and if you are anywhere near Wilmington, be sure to go sit in the chairs for real. Claude would be glad to have you over!

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