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Marc Newson Lockheed Lounge

Marc Newson's Lockheed Lounge chair sells for a record £1,100,000 (roughly $1,640,000).

Rare and important ‘Lockheed Lounge’, 1988
Fibreglass-reinforced polyester resin core, blind riveted sheet aluminum, rubber-coated polyester resin. 88.9 x 63.5 x 152.4 cm. (35 x 25 x 60 in.) Produced by Basecraft for Pod, Australia. From an edition of ten plus four artist’s proofs and one example with white feet. Underside impressed with ‘BASECRAFT SYDNEY 12’.

After years of waiting, this Marc Newson Lockheed Lounge on the auction block with an estimate of £500,000-700,000! This icon of modern design had a final hammer price of £1,100,000 which is a new record for any living furniture designer and an incredible achievement in this environment.

This ‘Lockheed Lounge’ will be included as ‘MN-14LLB-1988’, in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of limited editions by Marc Newson, being prepared by Didier Krzentowski of Galerie Kreo, Paris.

Marc Newson believes the present lot to be the first of four artist’s proofs, an early example preceding his edition of ten. All examples were built at Basecraft, a small Sydney workshop where Newson developed his ‘LC1’ chaise longue in 1985-1986.That chair was first exhibited at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney, June 1986, and is now in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Although a markedly different chair, Newson’s ‘LC1’ led to the present form, the ‘Lockheed Lounge’, of which fifteen exist: one with white feet, four artist’s proofs, and a further edition of ten.

The present lot is one of two examples used during the filming of Madonna’s video for her single Rain, shot May 16-19, 1993 at the Santa Monica Airport, Santa Monica, California.

In the order of their acquisition, ‘Lockheed Lounge’ is in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Powerhouse Museum, Sydney; Vitra Design Museum,Weil am Rhein; and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.
Phillips de Pury & Company would like to thank Marc Newson and Didier Krzentowski for their assistance cataloguing this lot. With regard to date, edition size, manufacture, and material, this entry supersedes all previous publications of ‘Lockheed Lounge’.

Who can resist a good figure? Not Marc Newson. Since first riveting Lockheed Lounge for a 1986 exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley Gallery in Sydney, he has returned again and again to the hourglass shape as inspiration for much of his work: Pod Drawers, Embryos, and Orgone Lounges. Airplanes, cars, and surfboards are metaphors for Newson, their construction and materials a common point of departure, but the human torso is as fertile a seed for his imagination. Newson is at heart organic, in the vital not voguish sense. The seat and backrest of his Felt Chair stretches and bends like a torso. His related Wicker Lounge recalls a nubile in repose, or two. Lockheed Lounge set the stage for these later works. Even his everyday products—pepper grinders, bath pillows, bottle openers, doorstops—are buxom. Objects resonate when they relate to us. A Newson maxim might read: one must mimic the body to hold the body.

At Sydney College of the Arts, Newson studied sculpture, jewellery, and furniture design. In 1984 he graduated with the outlines of a plan: technical materials, futurism, fluidity—and with inexperience, the burden of every graduate. Later that year he began shaping Lockheed Lounge from foam, as he would a surfboard. His intention had been to cover its fiberglass core with a single sheet of aluminum: “I tried laminating it, but the thing fell apart…Eventually, I came up with the idea of beating little pieces of metal into shape with a wooden mallet, and attaching them with rivets.” (Rawsthorn, Marc Newson, p. 5).

A hallmark of Newson’s later work is “seamlessness”, to borrow from Louise Neri. Smoothness triumphs: neither joint nor junction disrupt the contours of his Alessi tray, for example, or his recent extruded marble tables shown at Gagosian Gallery. Lockheed Lounge, furrowed with seams, beguiles for the opposite reason: imperfection. Flat-head rivets literally and visually suture together a patchwork of aluminum. Coarse seams betray Newson’s limitations, but Lockheed’s fluid silhouette affirms its maker’s search for a clear ideal. At its core—fibreglass-reinforced polyester—Lockheed Lounge is seamless.

In 1943, the Lockheed Corporation transformed air travel by christening its L049 Constellation, a radical airliner capable of transatlantic runs at 300 mph. Nearly a half century later, Newson transformed the design market with his coyly named LC01 prototype Lockheed Lounge, an immediate critical success (purchased by the Art Gallery of South Australia). But like the Constellation—a propeller-driven plane—Marc Newson had not yet achieved Mach 1 speeds. The hand-wrought curves of his chair hint at fundamental human limitations while simultaneously suggesting the perfection of industrial processes. Lockheed Lounge, a paragon of youthful ambition, engendered all of Newson’s later preoccupations with flow and speed.