It is a question. German performer, conceptualist and sculptor Joseph Beuys (1921 - 1986) and British conceptual artist Rachel Whiteread (1963) are one of the most important art thinkers of their generations. Their very well thoughtful art concepts are more philosophy and conceptual research than traditional materialist-based art. Despite all this, both of them have designed something so ordinary in contexts of their main work, like is the lamp.
Brought for a serial production by Munich based thinker, gallerist, publisher and designer himself Jörg Schellmann, both of the designs are now available under his own furniture label Schellmann Furniture producing only unique pieces designed by artists such as Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Gerhard Merz, Liam Gillick or Jörg Schellmann himself.
Beuys`s lamp was designed in 1960 for his own studio in Düsseldorf. In this time he simply needed the lamp for the space, so he composed very minimalist, almost anti-aesthetic lamp from the material he found around himself. Thin metal tripod was added by a ceramic socket with bulb and small metal reflector. That is it. At the end his original design he used for the next 40 years in his studio. Beuys`s piece show us a nice example of the very natural design born from the necessity that did not correspond with period design trends and movements in any case. Something like the "design brut", the lamp is the result of the ordinary useful thinking of the big conceptualist.
The similar approach but more "designed", "carefully formulated" and not so intuitive as the lamp by Beuys we can see in the lamp designed by Rachel Whiteread in 2009. The bronze body was cast from the inside space of the bottle. The result is the totally same as we can see in Whiteread`s sculptures as are her concrete casts of the buildings and monumental objects. The principe of the lamp is the same.
So why have conceptual artists designed the lamps? Sometimes from the necessity, sometimes as a new use of their typical art creative visions.
Photo Courtesy of Jörg Schellmann Furniture