Although the Corcoran Gallery of Art show “Modernism: Designing a New World 1914-1939” closed July 29, a design dealer has just started a campaign against the Corcoran, claiming that “most of the Rietveld chairs” featured in the exhibition were knock-offs. Michael Manes has created an entire site devoted to this concept of protecting Genuine Design:
Cassina S.p.A. holds a registered trademark on use of the Rietveld name in the United States, and the worldwide exclusive rights to manufacture his furniture designs. Any “Rietveld” chair not made by Cassina is a fake.
In conjunction with the exhibit they are also selling the knock-offs in the gallery store. The Corcoran operates a design school and ought to know better. What a terrible example to set for their students!
But what Maines doesn’t tell us is exactly which Rietveld chairs were fakes, or why it’s that big of a deal if the Corcoran labeled them as reproductions. We can’t check the authenticity of what was shown, but the Zig Zag chair, above, is for sale at the Corcoran store, and it’s labeled as a reproduction (although it doesn’t say who manufactured it), as is the Red Blue chair. He makes no mention of the Wassily chair for sale, which is also marked as a reproduction.
We’re not quite sure what’s wrong with any of this, but we are just a teensy bit wary of someone who advocates buying genuine design, while owning a store that sells “genuine design.” We’re just sayin’.