Dutch, 1888 - 1964
G. A. van de Groenekan, fabricator (Holland)
Sideboard, 1919, executed 1959
H. 41 1/4 x W. 78 3/4 x D. 17 1/2 in.
One of the most important works to be identified with the Dutch De Stijl movement, this sideboard, regrettably, survives only in a series of subsequent issues. The original, thought to have been executed in oak, was destroyed in a fire. It was first purchased by the architect, Piet Elling, who was an admirer of Rietveld's work.
As a composition in planar elements, the sideboard was designed along more traditionally functional lines than Rietveld's more familiar chairs (of which the Institute has five examples). Even so, the overall design was no less revolutionary and still looks fiercely modern in its starkness. In this piece, especially, Rietveld achieves the De Stijl edict of "weightlessness" by the masterful use of open spaces and by highlighting the listel ends with white. The form appears to float; space seems to continue through it rather than being blocked by its presence. Its strong horizontal emphasis, symmetry and rectilinearity are the very ingredients which Frank Lloyd Wright, among others, incorporated into Prairie School architecture.
Approximately ten sideboards were executed by van de Groenekan who made all of Rietveld's furniture--most were done in the sixties. His first attempt to duplicate the original was executed with Reitveld's assistance, and is in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. This sideboard was the second to be completed.