Marcel Breuer (American, born Hungary, 1902–1981)
Chrome-plated steel, canvas upholstery
H. 30 1/4 in. (76.8 cm), W. 30 1/4 in. (76.8 cm), D. 26 3/4 in. (67.9 cm)
Purchase, Lita Annenberg Hazen Charitable Trust Gift, 1988 (1988.256)
Architect and designer Marcel Breuer graduated from the Bauhaus carpentry workshop in 1924. Following a brief stay in Paris, Breuer returned to the Bauhaus Dessau as master of that workshop in 1925 at the request of Walter Gropius. Breuer remained at the Bauhaus until 1928. During this time, he experimented with extruded steel to create a series of lightweight metal furnishings, continuing the Bauhaus interest in industrial materials and manufacturing techniques. Inspired by the flexibility and strength of his beloved metal bicycle frame, Breuer applied the same material and construction principles to chair design. After numerous prototypes, Breuer settled on a fluid, minimal design in which the chair is supported on tubular metal runners. The taut, un-upholstered seat, back, and armrests of simple black canvas contribute to the stark, dematerialized appearance of the chair. It became known as the "Wassily" chair, in homage to Breuer's friend and fellow Bauhaus instructor, the Russian painter Vasily Kandinsky. While this iconic chair design remains closely associated with the Bauhaus, and was used in several areas of the Bauhaus Dessau, Breuer developed and manufactured it in his free time, independent from the school.