Terence Main has been challenging the borders between art and design with his artistic metal furniture. Considered art before furniture, his objects are sculptures in a form that accommodates the human body, but distinctly declare form before function.
A graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art Masters program, Main’s work was a staple at Rick Kaufmann’s avant-garde Art et Industrie Gallery in New York. Kaufmann, was soon giving Main solo exhibitions, as well as including his work in group exhibitions with the likes of Ron Arad, Larry Bell, Forrest Myers, Howard Meister and Michele Oka Doner. Main has been featured in exhibitions at museums and galleries around the world. He has received commissions for hotels, corporate offices and private residences, and his sculptures are in the permanent collections in many museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum.
More ‘objects that hold the human body’ than utilitarian chairs, Main’s sculptures begin in sketches. Over a period of a month to a half a year, the sketches become models for off-site molding and finally casting and finishing. Though often mistaken for craft, Main’s guiding principle lies more with the initial shape and design of his sculptures, rather than the process of construction.”
When is a chair not a chair? The obvious answer would seem to be: “When you can’t sit in it.” But this doesn’t quite fit when it comes to Terence Main’s work. While objects made of solid bronze and composed of forms that resemble (variously) flattened rib cages, vertebrae, and the skeletons of leaves or insects don’t exactly invite you to curl up and read a book, they can be sat in or on without serious discomfort. That they are also extremely beautiful seems a byproduct of Main’s passionate obsession with the relation between abstract form, and the form of the human body.
Like most interesting artists today Main operates on a kind of borderline of his own choosing. On one side lie ideas of function, craft and the decorative, on the other the oppressive precepts of High Art.