Pedro Friedeberg & his hand chair
"I admire everything that is useless, frivolous and whimsical."
"I hate functionalism, post-modernism and almost everything else."
"I do not agree with the dictum that houses are supposed to be “machines to live in”."
"For me, the house and its objects is supposed to be some crazy place that make you laugh."
- Pedro Friedeberg
Pietro Enrico Hoffman Landesman (as was his given name) or as he was later known as Pedro Friedeberg, was born in Italy in 1936 to German-Jewish parents. At the age of three, Pietro and his recently divorced mother fled Italy at the onset of the Second World War and settled in Mexico.
Soon after arriving in the new country, Pietro’s mother remarried and went to work as a translator for expats — such as the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and German writer Anna Seghers — both of whom had fled their native countries and sought asylum in Mexico.
As a University student in Mexico City in the 50’s, he initially studied architecture but his fantastical designs ran afoul of his rationalist, Bauhaus oriented teachers.
By chance, his drawings came to the attention of Mathias Goeritz a German born avant garde painter & sculptor who encouraged Friedeberg and made him a protégé. By 1961 he started exhibiting in local galleries and abandoned his studies to focus solely on his art.
From an early age, Friedeberg was surrounded by radical thinkers and artists, which undoubtedly had a tremendous impact on him. Mexico City and its surroundings provided a wealth of influences for a young, inquisitive mind.
He was always fascinated by religious architecture: cathedrals, Aztec pyramids, synagogues, Gurdjieffian temples and at an early age he was influenced by theosophy, Catholicism, atheism, Eastern customs and religions.
As a sculptor & painter Pedro Friedeberg’s work is richly detailed, surreal & his artistic style blends influences from neoclassical art, Esher and mesoamerican symbolism.
Space and time are immaterial; the ancient mingles with the modern; hands and feet become chairs, animals dance among classical architecture; images, shapes, and letters are repeated ad infinitum. Anything and everything is possible in the crazy world of Pedro Friedeberg. His imagination is limitless.
His foot and hand chairs, clocks in the shape of hands and tattooed mannequins among other things bring levity and whimsy to any space it occupies.
He is best known for his Hand chair, a functional sculpture that is an icon of design as art, created in 1961.
With a career spanning more than five decades, he has developed something of a cult following among collectors and designers across the globe.