STEFAN RURAK Copyright © 2019 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 Catalog Design: Dallas Dunn
Self published using Lightning Press Totowa, NJ
Todd Merrill Studio For over fifteen years, Todd Merrill Studio has exhibited and purveyed the finest selection of post-war American studio furniture. In 2008, Rizzoli published Merrill’s “Modern Americana: Studio Furniture from High Craft to High Glam”, the first ever authoritative examination of the great studio furniture makers and designers who, from 1940 through the 1990s defined American high style. To celebrate the tenth anniversary, Rizzoli published an expanded edition in 2018, adding 60 pages to his original book. This survey of the period included two additional chapters highlighting the importance of Women Makers and Showrooms. In 2009, shortly after the initial publication of “Modern Americana”, Merrill launched Studio Contemporary, in an effort to develop and represent the work of an international group of established and emerging contemporary artists. Today, their work is sought after by a wide range of art and design patrons, from collectors and decorators, to curators and museum academics. While their work may be functional or historically based, each artist brings a fresh perspective and a desire to express more than just decorative influence. With an ever growing range of mediums--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), and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pennsylvania), amongst others. The gallery exhibits throughout the year at some of the leading art and design fairs in the world. A selection of these includes The Salon Art + Design (New York); Design Miami (Basel, Switzerland and Miami); FOG: Design + Art (San Francisco); the Pavilion of Arts and Design (New York, Paris, Geneva, and London); Collectible (Brussels); Masterpiece (London); Collect (London); Gallery Seoul (Seoul); The International Fine Art & Antiques Dealer Show (New York); Zona MACO (Mexico City); Tajan (Paris); Design Days Dubai (Dubai); Art Wynwood (Miami); Art Toronto (Toronto)
STEFAN RURAK Brooklyn-based Stefan Rurak’s furniture defies conventional boundaries – merging fine art aesthetics, modern conceptual design, and traditional, hand-made craftsmanship techniques. His evocative, one-of-a-kind works are the type of collectible pieces built to span generations. Working with a variety of materials – wood, cast concrete, and steel – Rurak draws no distinction between art and design – the utilitarian becoming a canvas for his aesthetic endeavor. Each piece conveys movement, action, and intuition, providing a stark counterpoint to the meticulous construction and composition of the functional skeleton underneath. Rurak’s unique aesthetic and process stems from a diverse range of media, ranging from things as conventional as drawing and painting to performance art. “The work is largely process oriented, he states, “Increasingly I became aware that the mediums I was drawn to, such as silkscreen printing and film photography were really a pursuit of a craft that relied on a skillset as well as a system of tools.” Visually, the work marries elements of minimalism and abstract expressionism. Throughout each piece is evidence of the artist at work. A cast concrete drawer face or a cabinet’s surface may be punctuated with mark-making clearly bearing the hand of the artist.
The smooth steel plates that act as screens are often uniquely hand-etched as a quasi-signature. The etched drawings that are regularly repeated in his work have no meaning but rather exist as a language of symbols personal to Rurak. “Simply put these are shapes, lines and gestures that make me feel good. I do not decide the drawings before I apply them to the steel. This is an extremely high-stakes process. After countless hours constructing the cabinet, meticulously finishing it, the very last step is taking an angle grinder and drawing into the face.” This intuitive action and the tension it creates is charged with consequences. It’s here that Rurak’s confidence is particularly evident as any slip or mistake will be permanently reflected in the steel.
Concrete and Steel Low Table No.1, USA, 2019 Steel, concrete, paint, brass, 24ct. gold 16h x 36w x 36d inches
Concrete and Steel Low Table No.2, USA, 2019 Steel, concrete, paint, 24ct gold leaf 18.5h x 48w x 40d inches
Concrete and Steel Occasional Table No.1, USA, 2019 Steel, concrete, paint, 24ct gold leaf 24h x 20w x 24d inches
Stefan Rurakâ€™s Credenza Diptych typifies his unique approach to design. Rurak has translated his truism, denouncing the distinction between art and design, into a literal representation. Designed as an integrated work, the Credenza Diptych simultaneously encompasses an artwork and a functional work of furniture. The console features a three door cabinet, opening to adjustable shelving. To the right are three drawers faced with cast concrete, punctuated with mark-making, clearly bearing the hand of the artist. The door panels of the console are extended visually upward integrating with a hanging panel. Both the doors and hanging panel are created from flat planes of hand-patinated steel. The smooth surface of the steel reads as moody takes on color field painting, with areas populated with splashes and stains before being finished with oil and buffed wax. Applied pigmented concrete is built up to create texture somewhere between collage and assemblage.
Console Diptych, 2019 Cast concrete, Cement, Patinated steel, Walnut console 34h x 84w x 22d inches // panel 60h x 52w x 1.5d inches
Standing Screen, USA, 2019 Cast concrete, cement, patinated steel, mirrored steel, paint 82h x 66w x 2d inches
Credenza No.1, USA, 2019 Cast concrete, cement, patinated steel, walnut 30h x 72w x 17d inches
Dresser No.1, USA, 2019 Cast concrete, cement, patinated steel, walnut 30h x 60w x 18d inches
Credenza No.2, USA, 2019 Cast concrete, cement, patinated steel, walnut 30h x 72w x 17d inches
Prairie,USA, 2019 Cement, concrete, paint, sheet metal, wood 60h x 48w x 2d inches
Steel Drawing No.7, USA, 2019 Steel panel 48h x 60w x 1d in
Steel Drawing No.8, USA, 2019 Steel panel 60h x 48w x 1d in
Portland White #1, USA, 2019 concrete, plywood, paint 47.50h x 40w x 4d in
Portland White #2, USA, 2019 concrete, plywood, paint 47.50h x 40w x 4d in