B 3 1925 (this exemplar probably 1929-1932)
Marcel Breuer HU/US
long-term loan from Frank Steyaert, 1992
Like the Barcelona chair you can see a bit further on, this B3 chair is a Bauhaus icon. The Ghent ceramicist Frank Steyaert recognized the design when as a young boy in the 1960s he noticed it on a rubbish dump. Although related to the existing type of armchair in which you lean back comfortably, this chair was revolutionary owing to the use of cheap, industrially produced steel tubes. The composition of lines and surfaces fits the abstract design language advocated by the Bauhaus. Marcel Breuer, one of the first foreign students at the Bauhaus and ‘young master’ from the winter of 1924 onward, designed the chair in the period in which the school was seeking closer collaboration with the local industry in order to justify its ongoing existence. Breuer’s decision to produce his tubular furniture in his own name and later to grant the rights to Thonet confirmed the vulnerability of the school’s profitability.
Barry Bergdoll en Leah Dickerman, Bauhaus 1919-1933. Workshops for modernity, MoMA, New York, 2009 (tent.cat.).