Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Did I say I hate furniture?

I did, didn't I. But I did give a brief mention to my love of Belter. I realized (as I pondered that I should blog a little more regularly) that I've never fully devoted an entry to the Belter tete-a-tete and why I find it such an amazing furniture form. The time has come.

I discovered this beautiful piece of furniture, lovingly housed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art while goofing off one day in undergrad. I'm not sure what I was researching, but I used to click through the pictures of the American Decorative Arts collection because there was a wedding dress that I thought was absolutely, breathtakingly, extraordinarily beautiful (that I can't find now). I also liked to look through the other decorative arts on the page. (This was a point in my life where I kind of wish someone had said, "Did you know there is a way you can study just these things without all the paintings and sculpture?) In this way, I stumbled across this sinuous form. It was amazing, and so perfectly named. "Tete-a-tete." I imagined my life wherein I would own a home large enough to house this piece of furniture. Couples and friends could sit, completely ensconced in the piece, shut off from the rest of the world, but able to focus solely on one another.

It is quite the Victorian piece of furniture. I want to use the word "delicious" here in imagining a woman in her hoop skirt, laced up bodice, leaning back and exchanging words with her dashing young man in his long coat and sideburns, with a bit of a rakish look in his eye.

To this day, I'm not sure what it is about this piece. But I think it is the form, I love all tete-a-tetes. And in the Rococo revival that was the mid-19th century, the form works well. There are a few additional decorative elements on the top that I could live without, but I actually like the deep blue and gold upholstery. (I doubt it is original.) The Belter piece I had to learn for my survey class just makes me feel repulsed and a little embarrassed by just how much I love the other piece. Which, again, leads to the conclusion that it's the form. If anyone knows of a modern take--like Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe--on the tete-a-tete, please send it my way!

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