Beyond Craft: Woodworking On Steroids

long wood table sculptre

If it’s functional, is it Art of is it Craft? Can it be both?

I remember endless art school debates on this topic but in the work of the artist Michael Beitz I think the answer is obvious. Yes, it most certainly can be both.

Beitz studied sculpture but has supported himself working for furniture makers, among them the famous furniture artist Wendell Castle. In addition to his remarkable technical skills Beitz demonstrates a keen understanding of the elements and principles of design.

Dining-Table by Michael Beitz

His 14 foot long piece “Dining Table” makes wonderful use of the element of line. The wildly undulating line of the table connects the two people seated at either end, while also emphasizing the distance between them. In addition, the table utilizes the design principle of rhythm. It’s unexpected usage contributes to the humor of a piece that actually addresses serious issues found in human relationships.

Picnic Table by Michael Beitz

Once again, line plays an important role in Beitz’s “Picnic.” The curving lines of the table appear to be moving, as if the table is somersaulting and backflipping across the pavement (the principle of motion). Equally important is his use of the element of shape. There is a complex interaction between the positive and negative shapes of the table.

All three of the works shown here are dependent on the design principle of scale • proportion. Beitz has taken common everyday objects and greatly altered their expected size and proportions. These new distorted and larger-than-life dimensions cause us to look more closely at the functional and social uses of other domestic objects we encounter in our daily life.

To read more about Michael Beitz…

You can see more of Michael’s work on his website…

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