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Marc Fish


Copyright © 2017 Todd Merrill All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below. Todd Merrill & Associates, Inc. 80 Lafayette Street New York, NY 10013 www.toddmerrillstudio.com Printed in the United States of America Fish, Marc. Marc Fish / Todd Merrill. 1. artist — monograph. First Edition. 14 / 1 Book design by Joe Klaus


Marc Fish

Todd Merrill with essay by Carolin Young

Self published using Lulu.com New York, NY 3


Todd Merrill Studio For over fifteen years, Todd Merrill Studio has exhibited and purveyed the finest selection of post-war American studio furniture. Shortly after Rizzoli published his seminal book on the subject, “Modern Americana: Studio Furniture from High Craft to High Glam”, 2008, Merrill launched Studio Contemporary, representing the work of an international group of established and emerging contemporary artists. Today, their work is sought after by a wide range of art patrons, from collectors and decorators, to curators and museum academics. While each artist uses his or her own chosen medium-from textile to porcelain, to marble and LEDs--their joint curation at Studio Contemporary relies upon their shared drive to push those materials to their absolute aesthetic limits. The result: dynamic, handmade, and unique pieces that contribute to today’s increasingly relevant “grey space” between art and design. The gallery has progressively cultivated and established new artists, placing their work into private and public collections which include The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (New York), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), The Museum of Art and Design (New York), The

Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), The High Museum of Art (Atlanta), and The Brooklyn Museum (New York), amongst others. Currently, Studio Contemporary represents the work of Niamh Barry, Colleen Carlson, Ezra Cohen, Sophie Coryndon, Amy Cushing, Marc Fish, Nader Gammas, Stephane Graff, Markus Haase, Molly Hatch, John Hersey, Beth Katleman, Karl Springer LTD, Gary Magakis, Knox Martin, Shari Mendelson, Gareth Neal, Soraya Osorio, Jake Phipps, John Procario, Yard Sale Project, Chris Rucker, Antonio Pio Saracino, and Erin Sullivan. Throughout the year, the gallery exhibits at the best art and design fairs worldwide, including: Design Days Dubai (Dubai), Collective Design Fair (New York), Art Miami (Miami), Design Miami (Basel, Miami), FOG: Design + Art (San Francisco), Pavilion of Arts & Design (New York, Paris, London), Masterpiece (London), Gallery Seoul (South Korea), Spring Masters (New York), The International Fine Art and Antiques Dealer Show (New York), Zona MACO (Mexico City), Salon Art + Design (New York) and The Winter Antiques Show (New York).

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Introduction By Todd Merrill Todd Merrill Studio is pleased to represent renowned UK based artist and craftsman, Marc Fish. Fish’s use of the best timbers and veneers, his understanding of metal fabrication, and his attention to detail set him apart from the standard cabinetmaker. Commissions are undertaken in various styles and construction techniques to produce the finest heirloom quality furniture and accessories. His sublimely unique works possess a timelessness that could fit seamlessly into the most contemporary of settings or the most traditional. These one-of-a-kind pieces are created through an incredible mastery of the most refined practices in micro stack-lamination today and have attracted the attention of designers, architects and collectors worldwide. His unusual and unique process, which implements only dry, cold-carving techniques, is unparalleled in the world of independent studio woodworkers. While the curvilinear forms of Fish’s works harken back to Art Nouveau, his process pushes the limits of 21st Century furniture design. Fish began making furniture twenty years ago in his studio. After studying with some of the best fine furniture makers in the UK, he received two distinctions from City & Guilds in Furniture Making and Computer Aided Design. His flair and natural ability set him apart as a designer/ maker to look out for in the future. Being recognized as a new talent, Fish was awarded four prestigious Guild

Marks by The Worshipful Company of Furniture. He was also the recipient of the 2011 Claxton Stevens prize, the highest honor bestowed by The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. As Fish only creates a few select designs per year, his work is highly sought after. His passion is for one-off pieces; drawing on exquisite craftsmanship and a good design ethos. Fish draws inspiration from natural forms, often exploring the Victorian obsession with natural history as with his celebrated Nautilus Table (2011), Mollusque Table (2012), and the Laminaria Series (2015).

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Marc Fish’s sculptural Adhesion Console is the first in a new series of works in which Marc Fish has begun to explore the aesthetic nature of human and plant biology. The work’s title reflects this thematic exploration— the word “adhesion” refers to an abnormal union of membranous surfaces due to inflammation or injury. In this first piece of the series, Fish has taken inspiration from organic fibers and the way in which they repair themselves when torn. The table, in walnut and clear resin, appears to be torn almost to breaking point with only the smallest pieces remaining and the spaces left to be biologically repaired. Marc Fish constantly strives to transcend the boundaries of art, design, sculpture, and furniture. Exploring the Victorian obsession with natural history, these one-of-a-kind pieces are created through an incredible mastery of practices in micro stack-lamination. While the curvilinear forms of Fish’s works harken back to Art Nouveau, his process pushes the limits of 21st Century furniture design.

Adhesion Console, 2016 80L x 36H x 36D Inches American black walnut and resin Edition of 7


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One Piece Series While sculpture and architecture provide stimulation for his inimitable outlook, it is the design process itself that has inspired and propelled the success of Fish’s latest body of works: the One Piece Series. Each of the works in the One Piece series begins as a single board that is shaved into hundreds of paper thin laminations. By stack laminating the pieces together Fish creates the primary shape of the work. It is then bent without heat, steam, or water preserving the integrity of wood. Fish hand-sculpts the work into its final form before applying artisan finishing materials and techniques such as ceruse, resin and metal compounds, or clear acrylic resin. Invention rather than inspiration is the genesis of the One Piece Series. Fish extrodinary techniques allow him to explore the positive and negative space that a single piece of wood can occupy. Each of the designs in the One Piece Series is completely unique and created in a limited number of 25, while custom dimensions can be accommodated for a bespoke piece. The works have been shown internationally at the Winter Antiques Show (New York, NY. 2017), Salon: Art and Design (New York, NY. 2016), Inspired @ the Goldsmith’s Centre (London, UK 2016), London Craft Week Craftcentral (London, UK 2016), FOG San Francisco (San Francisco, CA 2016), Salon: Art + Design (New York, NY Nov 2015).


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The One Piece Low Table is the latest in the One Piece Series. The low table is made from nearly 600 strips of oak timber veneer and finished with squid ink dye and an aluminum and resin epoxy. The oak’s exquisite grain is cerused in aluminum evoking a bygone era of glamour and craftsmanship.

One Piece Low Table, 2017 19H x 62W x 40D Inches Oak, aluminum, and squid ink


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Seemingly fluid and weightless, the structure of Fish’s One Piece Chair twists and bends upon itself. At once a unique, undulating sculpture and a functional seating option, the sinuous object is an organic and unprecedented form, its delicate design revealing the artist’s ingenuity. Similar in spirit to the works in Fish’s Laminaria Series, the One Piece Chair resembles a ribbon of seaweed, preserved in time. The exquisite textures that follow the console’s curves are underscored by Fish’s use of the squid ink dye and his exclusive mixture of bronze and resin.

One Piece Chair, 2016 40L x 47H x 19.5W Inches Oak, bronze, and squid ink Edition of 25


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The One Piece Bronzed Console is built from a single oak board that has been shaved into nearly 100 pieces of paper-thin timber “veneers.� Manipulated, stacked, and laminated into its preliminary shape, the structure is then hand-carved and sanded smooth. The top surface of the console is finished with squid ink dye giving the piece a rich dramatic plane that highlights the natural grain of the wood. The underside of the table, finished with a distinctive mixture of resin and bronze, provides a striking contrast to the matte surface, giving the affect of twisted, cast bronze faultlessly fused with inky wood.

One Piece Bronzed Console, 2015 39H x 75 ÂźW x 16D Inches Oak, bronze, and squid ink Edition of 25


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One Piece Console, 2015 36H x 58W x 17.5D Inches Oak and Wax Finish


Laminaria Series Fish’s incredible mastery of today’s most refined practices in micro stack-lamination formed the genesis of the Laminaria Series. Manipulated into winding, layered shapes, each work has been pieced together, hand-carved, sanded, polished, and finished with oil and wax. Stimulated by marine life, this series takes inspiration from twisted seaweed forms, as its title, Laminaria, a genus of seaweed, suggests. The sinuous and delicate forms reveal the artist’s hand at work while embodying a seemingly organic structure.


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Continuing his exploration of stack laminated hand-cut “veneers�, Fish is pushing his construction method forward with a more organic fluidity and with sharp crisp lines that blend into sweeping curves. The Laminaria Chaise is made from eight boards that have been deconstructed and reformed into eight sections that strikingly flow in and out of each other. A feat of design, sculpting, and engineering, the Laminaria Chaise references the Art Nouveau period, but the inspiration for the work and the movement of the chaise are inspired directly by nature.

Laminaria Chaise, 2016 77L x 33H x 30W Inches American Black Walnut


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Laminaria Library Steps, 2015 66.5H x 53W x 29 1/4D Inches American Black Walnut


Marc Fish’s handmade, unique Laminaria Console is created from nearly 400 pieces of American black walnut “veneer.” The ribbon like delicacy of the work belies the console’s structural integrity. By using an uncommon method of bending the wood that does not rely on heat, water or steam, the strength of the walnut is preseved. A structual marvel, the console showcases Fish’s virtuosity of art furniture.

Laminaria Console, 2015 41 1/2 H x 106 W x 25 1/2 D Inches Walnut


Erosion Vessel Series Each of Marc Fish’s handmade, unique vessels is created from 600 layers of wood veneer that have been laser-cut and reassembled to form a shape, evocative of an ancient vase. Best described as “contemporary relics,” the works conceptually and aesthetically link the past and the present by a deterioration and re-creation. Inspired by ancient pottery, they implement modern-day sculpting techniques, yielding a fresh and unprecedented aesthetic. Each vessel features a unique level of “decay.” Fish explains, “The vessels explore the notion of found, ancient objects being recreated with modern and traditional craftsmanship.” Showcasing Fish’s incredible mastery of the most refined practices in micro stack-lamination today, the works are made with cold-carving and laser cutting technology, forgoing the traditional use of heat.


Marc Fish’s “Smoke Erosion Vessel” follows the tradition of Fish’s celebrated Erosion Vessel Series. This unique work is finished in the style of “show sugi ban,” a Japanese technique that preserves wood by charring it with fire. The vessel’s charred surface further extends the “relic” theme. Contrasting the dark, matte surface of the vessel, the unexpected interior is patinated in a yellow silver glaze, employing a process unique to the artist.

Smoke Erosion Vessel, 2017 11.2H x 7.5W Inches Blackened Wood, Bronze


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Erosion Vessel, 2016 11.2H x 7.5W Inches Wood


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Erosion Vessel, 2016 11.2H x 7.5W Inches Wood


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Marc Fish By Carolin Young

Is it sculpture or furniture; and how was it made? UK-based artist and craftsman Marc Fish begs us to consider these questions. He has quickly gained international repute for creating hitherto impossible shapes out of wood that transcend the realm of furniture into art. To do so, he has developed exciting techniques that build upon the strong traditions of British and French furniture-making, in which he was trained, but that carry them forward into the twenty-first century without ever losing their devotion to craftsmanship, fine materials, and aesthetics. Technological innovation is not a shortcut for Fish but rather a means to execute ideas that his artistic forebears had no way of making. He essentially invites us, the contemporary viewer, into a dynamic yet respectful dialogue with the past, even as he brings it forward into the future as he trains a “waiting-list only” group of students/apprentices. Fish’s design ethos frequently reprises themes found in Art Nouveau, and in nature (especially of the sea) –with more than a nod to the Victorians (the “parents” of the Art Nouveau generation)—who so obsessively collected and displayed every seashell or skeleton they could find. Fish’s interest does not concern itself with whether Charles

Darwin or Augustus Pitt Rivers got it “right” in terms of evolution. Rather, he takes inspiration in the sense of wonder that their collections catalyzed from behind glass cabinets; as well as in the strange, unclassical shapes these showcased. Working slowly and methodically, Fish uses computers, lasers, and other technologies to expand the creative possibilities of his craft even as he asks us to rekindle a lost sense of astonishment—whether from our own childhoods, or from the collective history of the British Empire (West) at its most expansive and confident. The hand of the artist, along with a respectful but often whimsical wink from the present to the past, can be found in each Fish piece. Fish’s inventive method of micro cross-stack lamination is particularly notable. To execute this, he layers hundreds of the finest and thinnest wood veneers—one on top of another — and then manipulates them into shape (quite unusually) without any use of heat. After that, he carves, sands, and finishes each object by hand — using a mixture of traditional methods drawn from the West and sometimes East, as well as his own, proprietary techniques.


Walnut and resin; sycamore and copper; or oak, aluminum and squid ink dye: Fish adores contrasting materials and textures that emphasize the inventive, yet historically inspired, shapes he creates. How better could one accentuate the attenuated lines of his shapes, their twists and knots, which are so mindful of the originating trees, than with a polished, metallic surface? As much as Fish embraces a mixture of contrasting materials and techniques with the bravura of the most refined French ébénistes, he does so in wholly British terms making them his own. For a touch of sparkle, he does not screw gilt-bronze mounts onto a piece of Japanese lacquer that has been cut and placed into a carved cabinet or bureau, as renowned furnituremakers from Weisweiler to Ruhlmann have done. Fish does, on the other hand, sometimes add touches of polished bronze directly onto to the underside of a chair, or the contour of a console table, to achieve a similar effect using a unique process that he invented. Without recourse to extraneous hardware, the result is subtler and underscores the organic qualities of Fish’s forms. Upon closer study it showcases Fish’s technical bravura, which shifts from wood into metal with the aqueous fluidity of the sea-dwelling plants and invertebrates that have

inspired so many of his forms. Fish apprenticed with some of the UK’s most esteemed woodworkers, and has extensive training in metal production. He has received two distinctions from the UK’s City & Guilds for Furniture-Making and another for Computer Aided Design; and has been awarded four prestigious Guild Marks by the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. In 2011, he won the Claxton Stevens Prize, the organization’s highest award. He currently serves as a judge for the panel deciding Guild Mark awards. Todd Merrill Studio is pleased to be Marc Fish’s exclusive international representative. Because each Fish object is a unique and meticulously crafted work, the artist embraces bespoke commissions that allow him to adapt his ideas to special dimensions and materials. Please contact the gallery for further information.

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Marc Fish’s journey exploring the Victorian obsession with natural history continues with the organically inspired futuristic design of his unique Mollusque Low Table. Mollusque is an oversized representation of a displayed artifact that recalls a 19th century curiosity. With elements that mix fictional eras, Fish’s work becomes timeless. The artist’s work could be described as mixing the visual depth, richness, and romanticism of Dickensian London and the futurism of Jules Verne. The complex technique Fish developed for achieving a double compound curved solid wood item had only been used before in the design of his “Nautilus” shell tables. The combination of this unique technique and the copper internal surface adds a new dimension of visual richness. Marc Fish has quickly achieved international acclaim. The limited nature of Fish’s works (only one new design is produced each year and all are made by hand), makes the work highly collectable. The artist constantly strives to blur the traditional boundaries of furniture, art, design and sculpture, explaining, “It is not my intention to be allocated a particular style or to be described within a preconceived discipline. I want my work to transcend these barriers.” His pieces are not constructed using a rigid design process; rather, they are the result of an evolution of ideas in which an initial concept is explored through a process of innovation and experimentation.

Mollusque, 2012 78 3/4L x 50 3/4W Inches Sycamore, carbon and glass fiber, glass and copper


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The brief for the first Nautilus Table was for a large statement piece, with maybe a hint of the sea – its location being a large loft style apartment overlooking the English Channel. An open brief from the client is every maker’s dream – room to explore, experiment and innovate. A new technique was developed to turn 4000 pieces of veneer strips into a 10 mm thick logarithmic spiral.

Nautilus, 2011 78 3/4L x 59 1/2W x 17 3/4H Inches Sycamore, glass, Japanese paper, and resin Edition of 5


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Marc Fish’s bar-cabinet Babel is a unique work of art that asserts Marc Fish as one of today’s most talented artists working with wood. Fish has developed a propriety technique whereby he carves sycamore to create a cocoon or shell-like structure. Babel opens to reveal a bronze lined interior with textured glass shelves. The cabinet, like Marc’s other pieces Mollusque and Nautilus, was inspired by the intricate shapes in the structures of shells. Another interpretation of this piece may be a pea pod that opens to reveal its seeds.

Babel, 2013 87H x 18W Inches Sycamore, glass & carbon fiber, bronze and textured glass Edition of 5


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Acknowledgments I would like to give my thanks to Todd Merrill and his devoted team. His support has been invaluable. Not only the obvious support; numerous exhibitions, a space to display my work, an amazing client list and the catalogue, but the invaluable dialogue, guidance and access to a wealth of experience in the market. Todd’s total belief in my work is very gratefully appreciated. He has been genuinely driven and committed in getting the work shown in the right exhibitions and finding it’s audience. I personally would like to thank Todd for the text replies on Sundays when this artist is having one of those bad days. I would like to thank Carolin Young for the eloquent words in her essay. Very interesting to read someone else’s thoughts about your work and what they see. So beautifully described thank you.

is second to none and the work benefits from his patience and devotion. Very talented craftsman, thank you Chris. Thank you to all the craftsmen that have worked with me over the last 20 years. My partner Vanessa (Ness) she has stood by me, through the ups and downs. Without her my work would not have taken a single breath, she taught me more about the arts than any teacher did or could. For her I am truly blessed, I love you. I would like to thank my parents for giving me a chance in life, without them there would be no work. Particularly my mother who is still doing the book keeping after all these years, thanks mum for not letting us run out of money.

One person I could not have done any of these pieces of work without is Chris Funnell my senior craftsman. He has shown an outstanding level of loyalty of which I have never come across before. His skill and attention to detail

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Marc Fish  

Renowned UK based artist and craftsman, Marc Fish and his use of timbers and veneers, fabrication, and attention to detail that sets him apa...

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