Paul Evans (1931–1987), Argenté Cube Table , Ca. 1968, Welded and etched aluminum and steel, ink, cleft slate, James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation

Walking through the galleries, you may have noticed some large metal pieces on display in our Intelligent Design exhibition, such as the work featured on the left. These metal works were created by studio metalworker and furniture design maker Paul Evans (1931-1987).

Image of Paul Evans working, n.d. Image courtesy of Dorsey Reading.

In February of 2014, the Michener will be opening the first retrospective of this artist’s work, which has been in planning stages for two years. It actually became a goal for project director and Curator of Collections, Connie Kimmerle, some six years ago when work by Paul Evans was included in the Michener’s Objects of Desire: Treasures from Private Collections exhibition.  In early May, the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage awarded funding for the exhibition, publication, and related programming, making it possible to assemble an exhibit team of individuals with distinctive approaches and fresh perspectives for exploring craft and design in post-World War II America.

Image of unidentified worker in Paul Evans’ workshop, n.d. Image courtesy of Dorsey Reading.

Using his welding, metallurgy, and jewelry design skills, Evans established a reputation as a creative designer of unique sculpted metal furniture. Evans’ shop operated much like an industrial laboratory, with constant experimentation with new materials, technologies, and designs. His highly innovative experimental approaches to metal have attracted an international following especially over the past decade.

Paul Evans (1931-1987), Forged-Front Cabinet, 1964, Welded steel, colored pigments, gold leaf, Collection of Sybil Conn

Drawn primarily from private collections, Paul Evans: Crossing Boundaries and Crafting Modernism focuses on an artist who has attracted a worldwide collecting base and whose approach to furniture-making defied traditional notions of craft. Linking old and new, approaching furniture as sculpture and abstract composition, Evans proved by the early sixties how furniture could be sculpture and expressive art; and his work reveals the fascinating cross-currents of sculpture and design, documenting the beginning of the art furniture movement.

Paul Evans (1931-1987), Skyline Cabinet, Ca. 1966, Welded steel, colored pigments, gold leaf, Collection of Sybil Conn.

The exhibition will travel to Cranbrook Art Museum (Bloomfield Hills, MI) during the period of June 2014 through October 2014.

Stay tuned for more discussion of the exhibition as it develops over the next year!