Mexican surrealist Pedro Friedeberg created his now-iconic Hand Chair on a whim. His mentor, the artist Mathias Goeritz told Friedeberg to throw some work to a favorite local carpenter. Thinking he was being funny, Friedeberg told the carpenter to carve a hand...big enough to sit on. But the moment Manhattan art dealer Georges Keller saw the hand sculpture/seat, he immediately put in orders...and the Hand Chair was born.
The Biography section of Friedeberg's official site is delightful:
"I was born in Italy during the era of Mussolini, who made all trains run on time. Immediately thereafter, I moved to México where the trains are never on time, but where once they start moving they pass pyramids.
My education was first entrusted to a Zapotec governess and later to brilliant mentors such as Mathias Goeritz, who taught me morals, José González, who taught me carpentry, and Gerry Morris, who taught me to play bridge.
I have invented several styles of architecture, as well as one new religion and two salads. I am particularly fond of social problems and cloud formations. My work is profoundly profound.
I admire everything that is useless, frivolous and whimsical. I hate functionalism, post modernism and almost everything else. I do not agree with the dictum that houses are supposed to be ‘machines to live in’. For me, the house and it’s objects is supposed to be some crazy place that make you laugh.
Americans do not understand Mexicans and viceversa. Americans find Mexicans unpunctual, they eat funny things and act like old-fashioned Chinese. When André Breton came to Mexico he said it was the chosen Country of surrealism. Breton saw all kinds of surrealist things happen here every day. The surrealists are more into dreaming, into the absurd and into the ridiculous uselesness of things. My work is always criticizing the absurdity of things. I am an idealist. I am certain that very soon now humanity will arrive at a marvelous epoch totally devoid of Knoll chairs, jogging pants, tennis shoes and baseball caps sideway use, and the obscenity of Japanese rock gardens five thousand miles from Kyoto.
I get up at the crack of noon and, after watering my pirañas, I breakfast off things Corinthian. Later in the day I partake in an Ionic lunch followed by a Doric nap. On Tuesdays I sketch a volute or two, and perhaps a pediment, if the mood overtakes me. Wednesday I have set aside for anti-meditation. On Thursdays I usually relax whereas on Friday I write autobiographies”
The Hand goes well in contemporary settings...
...as much as it does traditional spaces, as a sculptural element.
Legendary designer Kelly Wearstler has championed The Hand seen here in the entryway to her home (while she poses with her two sons)...
...and in her office.
Original Friedeberg Hand Chairs can go at auction for up to 5 figures.