Fast and Present: New Work by Johnny Swing
September 10 - October 31, 2020
64 White Street
R & Company announces the solo exhibition “Fast and Present: New Work by Johnny Swing,” which opens at 64 White Street on September 10th, 2020. It is the artist’s first solo show with the gallery, and his first New York exhibition since 2012. Over the past twenty years, Johnny Swing has become one of the world’s most recognizable furniture designers, best known for his iconic series of seating made out of welded American coins.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a monumental suite of furniture evoking the artist’s love of aquatic forms. Consisting of seven nesting zoomorphic works, Septem Maria (Seven Seas) has been executed in two unique versions by the artist and represents his most sublime sculptural creation to date. Johnny Swing states, “I wanted to surround and immerse people with a suite of furniture which provides a sensual, tactile experience, while providing collectors with an infinite array of arrangements based on these individually smaller works.”
This exhibition was born from a major retrospective of Swing’s entire career as an artist and designer, “Johnny Swing: Design Sense” which took place at the Shelburne Museum in January, 2019. As part of a display focused on Swing’s artistic process, he included the very first hand-carved prototypes for what would become the centerpiece of the 2020 gallery exhibition.
Ever since Swing first achieved international acclaim with the Nickel Couch, designed in 2000, his coin furniture had gravitated towards larger-scale seats, perfect for residential interiors, hotel and restaurant lobbies, and even sculpture parks such as Storm King Art Center, where the earliest example of the Nickel Couch is in their permanent collection. At the Shelburne, the combined mass of these prototypes hinted at a finished work which will be Swing’s most monumental to date. The key difference is that it consists of seven multifunctional components. This is in the tradition pioneered by early modern artists who were commissioned to do biomorphic installations, such as Jean Arp and Frederick Kiesler.
After several more prototypes were carved in fiberglass and resin-lacquered Styrofoam, the molds were cast and then literally thousands of hours were spent welding the coins and steel framework. The finished suite is Septem Maria (Seven Seas). Over the course of carving the prototypes, the forms evolved from amoebic to more distinctly marine in their iconography. Each of the seven works is named after an aquatic species using either Latin or nautical nomenclature, such as the simplest piece in the group, Cachalot (Sperm Whale). Two artist proofs of Septem Maria will be exhibited at R & Company, one in pressed nickels, the second in pressed presidential dollar coins. These artist proofs will be available for sale in their entirety only, but the artist will be accepting commissions for each of the individual works, with the idea that numerous couplings and nests can be created by putting several of the works together.
“We are delighted to be presenting Johnny’s first solo exhibition at R & Company, which is based on a truly awe-inspiring suite of interlocking furniture,” notes Zesty Meyers, Partner and Co-Founder of R & Company. “He has taken it to the next level with this symphony of the sea. The possibilities are endless when it comes to arranging these works in a room, while at the same time each individual work has a sculptural integrity which allows it to stand alone. R & Company features artists who push the boundaries of design and bridge the gap between craft and fine art. Johnny’s pioneering new work has definitely achieved these goals.”
The Septem Maria installations will be accompanied by a small series of Archipelago tables and a retrospective of Swing’s early years as a New York City artist on the gallery’s archival wall. The exhibition will be on view from September 10th to October 31st.