José Zanine Caldas Hand Carved Side Table
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José Zanine Caldas, hand carved side table, wood, Brazil, 1970s
This exceptional hand carved side table embodies everything that José Zanine Caldas stood for: love of nature and especially wood. This side table, created in the 1970s, is hand carved out of a single piece of wood. Its legs flow directly from the tabletop, following the round shape of the tree trunk. The patinated top of the table shows the annual rings of the tree. The pure beauty of nature is truly what is on show with this piece. The table is part of Caldas 'Móveis Denúncia' (protest furniture) series and is marked 'Zanine' on the side of the leg.
Brazilian artist José Zanine Caldas was born in Belmonte, on the south coast of Bahia, in 1919. The doctor's son was a self-taught artist and had no formal education. His idiosyncrasy characterized him from an early age as an artist and person. Caldas always deviated from the beaten track and usual norms: In times of advancing industrialization and globalization, Caldas always let his love for nature guide his choices and art.
Most of Caldas' contemporary colleagues graduated from art schools or architectural institutes. Caldas, however, developed his own style and methods. He decided to leave Bahia and move to Rio de Janeiro. Here he opened his own studio, where he developed architectural models without having been trained as an architect himself. Famous colleagues such as Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer admired his methods, skills and ingenuity.
José Zanine Caldas was particularly interested in other cultures and peoples. During his travels through Africa and Asia, he was impressed by the local customs in the places he visited. This made him realize that people who live in harmony with nature provide for themselves in a similar way everywhere in the world. The human quest for unity with nature became the main theme in his work.
He still felt drawn to his native region of Bahia and Caldas moved back in 1968. There he was inspired by the local craftsmen who cut boats out of fallen trees. Caldas began to apply this method to his furniture art. He started chiseling and carving wooden sculptural works and furniture. These handmade objects, which are all unique due to his working method, formed the focus and the pinnacle of Zanine Caldas' further career.
The fact that Caldas was very committed to his environment, and in particular the Brazilian landscape, always proved to be a guiding principle in his choices. He saw the toll agriculture and forest clearing demanded on the local nature. An advocate of rainforest conservation, Caldas founded the Foundation Center for the Development of the Application of Brazilian Woods. With this foundation Caldas fought against the destruction of the rainforests in Brazil by, among other things, freeing up money for education.
For his handmade furniture, he also made the radical choice to use only found wood, just like the local craftsmen. Caldas only used wood from trees that had died or fallen naturally. The furniture that Caldas made in this way is called 'Móveis Denúncia', in other words: protest furniture.
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