Magazine article Insight on the News

Fifties-Inspired Furnishings Mix Irony with Nostalgia

Magazine article Insight on the News

Fifties-Inspired Furnishings Mix Irony with Nostalgia

Article excerpt

Innovative artist Edward Zucca transforms symbols of the recent past into commentaries on contemporary issues from high finance to environmental disaster.

Although artist Edward Zucca claims he doesn't employ a "conscious nostalgia" in constructing fanciful furniture laden with images of the fifties, the stamp is indelible. Robots, televisions, spacecraft and extraterrestrials abound in his unique work, which speaks of a more technofriendly era.

"I like that period," Zucca says. "I grew up in it. I like the way things were designed then. It was a more innocent and simplified time."

But for Zucca, affinity for things past is saved from sentimentality by his sharp wit and political commentary that compels viewers of his work to consider how far society has come since the placid Eisenhower years.

Fame is beginning to find the Wood-stock, Conn.-based artist, who relies on commissions to earn a living while creating conceptual pieces for galleries. "A master of animated satire, Zucca's flights of fancy ridicule contemporary society's fixation with and worship of technology," says Michael Monroe, curator-in-charge at New York's Peter Joseph Gallery. "Zucca's furniture begs a wide range of interpretations of his unruly and cunning imagination." The artist's work appears in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

In Zucca's creations, ideas and images often make surprising connections. No subject is too sacred for the craftsman, who describes himself as an "artist who works in the medium of furniture." Fifties panache strikes a nerve in his bold, sometimes-comedic portfolio of boxy television sets, human-figure lamps, "amoeba" tables and fantastic clocks. Yet Zucca maintains a fine balance between message and aesthetics.

The fifties iconography latent in the artist's work recalls a time when the post-World War II American home represented the pinnacle of civilization to those who had survived the Depression and the turmoil of war. Americans quickly became accustomed to a world of convenience and "extra hours of freedom for happier living." Indeed, with an abundance of electric refrigerators and other household appliances, faster and more-streamlined cars, television sets and stereos, the future seemed full of promise.

But Zucca believes that was a fallacy. …

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