Christopher Kurtz is a Kingston-based woodworker, sculptor, and furniture maker whose work seems effortless. Behind the apparent insouciance of his output, however, is a serious set of chops. Kurtz’s virtuosity and materials-based approach is partly explained by his assistantship with Martin Puryear, the Accord-based sculptor who had a retrospective at MoMA in 2007—and taught Kurtz how to work with wood.
Kurtz tends to wear his influences on his sleeve; the modernism of Brancusi and Giacometti are easy to spot in his purity of line. His furniture challenges materials, as in his Bauhaus-inspired dining tables with hollow legs that reference the tubular steel furniture of Marcel Breuer and Mart Stam. While Kurtz’s sculpture is strongly rooted in the refinement of his craft, his furniture is highly sculptural.
The necessary tension and practical magic of Kurtz’s work lies in its duality: design and chance, form and function, art and craft. That duality is also its simple, unifying framework. “Ideas come from making things,” says Kurtz. “I like the alchemy of manipulating materials with your hands, taking a stick of wood and transforming it into something magical.”