The Cubist Coffee Service is based on an iconic object. It is a bas-relief construction of the photograph for the original Cubic coffee service titled, “Lights and Shadows of Manhattan.”

“Lights and Shadows of Manhattan” was designed by Eric Magnussen for Gorham in 1927. It presented a significant departure for both the designer and manufacturer (the craftsperson(s) is never identified) as a purely modernist form strongly influenced by cubism, Art Deco and skyscraper architecture.

Though sharply criticized when first exhibited, it has since become an icon included in almost every book related to Art Deco and 20th century design.

Despite the many photographic reproductions of this famous coffee service the images always show the same side. It is as if the photograph of the coffee set is more famous than the actual object. The other side of the set doesn’t seem to exist.

Exploring the impact of the photographic image in art and craft, my oversized fabrication of this famous coffee service is a bas-relief of the two-dimensional photograph. Like a stage set, it has every appearance of being the actual three-dimensional reincarnation – but it is not.

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