Dallas Museum of Art Dallas Museum of Art acquires the Miss Blanche armchair by Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata

The Dallas Museum of Art announced the acquisition of a major work of postmodernism, the Miss Blanche armchair by Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata (1934–1991). An integral addition to the Museum’s decorative arts and design collection, the chair’s acquisition honors outgoing DMA Board of Trustees Chairman Deedie Potter Rose and her many years of service to the Museum. The work was presented to Mrs. Rose yesterday at the final Board meeting over which she presided, and it is now on view in the DMA’s Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present installation on Level 4.

Miss Blanche is widely considered Kuramata’s masterpiece and debuted at the KAGU Tokyo Designer’s Week in 1988. The armchair, with its artificial roses suspended in acrylic, was inspired by a corsage worn by actress Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois in the movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire. The DMA’s example, a prototype, was originally acquired through the estate of the artist.

“We are extremely pleased to bring such an exquisite work into our collection at the Dallas Museum of Art, and one that so perfectly honors Deedie Rose, one of the most significant, successful, and passionate Board Chairs in the Museum’s history,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Miss Blanche is a sculptural experimentation for the designer, incorporating slabs of cast acrylic for its transparent, ethereal quality, seemingly denying what is in fact a weighty mass suspended upon tubes of colored aluminum. The sense of lightness was furthered by Kuramata’s obsession with the placement of the roses in the acrylic; he reputedly admonished the manufacturer’s staff to “make sure they float” by constantly adjusting the position of the stems as the medium cured. In 1990, Kuramata followed his edition of Miss Blanche with a totemic Feather Stool, also in cast acrylic but utilizing feathers in lieu of artificial flowers.

“Combining traditional Japanese aesthetics with echoes of Western popular culture, Kuramata celebrated technology, minimalism, and material pleasure in his work, often infusing it with notes of surrealistic imagery and wry humor,” said Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art. “His focus often questioned traditional form, material, and use through increasingly conceptual work denying ergonomics or more practical concerns,” he added, “and the Miss Blanche is an iconic example of postmodern design of the 1980s.”

Born in Tokyo in 1934, Shiro Kuramata graduated from Tokyo Polytechnic High School in 1953, where he studied woodworking before being employed by a furniture company. He subsequently enrolled at the Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo, where he became familiar with Western concepts of interior design, including chairs and seating furnishings. In 1957, Kuramata was hired by the department store San Ai as a designer of showcases and, in 1965, he opened his own design office in the city. www.dallasmuseumofart.org