Thursday, May 6, 2010

Useless > Useful

Piet Mondrian - Mondrian Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow (1930)

Rietveld’s Red Blue Chair, dating back to 1918, is hardly any less emotionally intense than Mondrian’s contemporary canvasses. It’s never been proved that Mondrian and Rietveld ever met, but their work clearly had much in common. Yet a chair that Rietveld made for himself will fetch no more than a fraction of the price of a Mondrian painting. Thorsten Veblen’s perceptive book The Theory of the Leisure Class tells us why. We value the useless above the useful. Art is useless, and even a chair as transgressive as Rietveld’s is still overshadowed by the taint of utility.

Gerrit Rietveld - Red Blue Chair (1923)

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