Rare Pair of Walnut Captain Chair by Wharton Esherick Wharton  Esherick
 
 Studio crafted stool Wharton Esherick Wharton  Esherick
 
     

Wharton Esherick
(American, 1887−1970)

Wharton  Esherick

Brief Biography:
Wharton Esherick was an American sculptor working primarily in wood and applying the principles of sculpture to common utilitarian objects. He is best known for his sculptural furniture. Esherick was recognized in his lifetime by his peers as the "dean of American craftsmen" for his leadership in developing non-traditional designs, and encouraging and inspiring artists/craftspeople by example. rnBorn in Philadelphia, Esherick studied painting at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts (now the University of the Arts (Philadelphia)) and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1913 he moved to a farmhouse near Paoli, Pennsylvania to pursue his painting career. He began carving decorative frames for his paintings in 1920, which led to making woodcut prints and finally to sculpture. Esherick?s early furniture was derived from the Arts and Crafts style, and decorated with surface carving. In the late 1920s, he abandoned carving on his furniture, focusing instead on the pure form of the pieces as sculpture. In the 1930s, he was producing sculpture and furniture influenced by the organicism of Rudolf Steiner, as well as by German Expressionism and Cubism. The angular and prismatic forms of the latter two movements gave way to the free-form curvilinear shapes for which he is best known.In 1940, George Howe used Esherick's Spiral Stair (1930) and Esherick furniture to create the "Pennsylvania Hill House" exhibit in the New York World's Fair America at Home Pavilion. Esherick's work was also featured in a 1958 retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Craft and in the 1972 "Woodenworks" exhibition at the Renwick Gallery. He exhibited hundreds of times during his life and his work is now in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Whitney Museum in New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and many other museums. Most of his work remains in private hands.