Michael Coffey blurs the line between carpenter and sculptor. A self-taught master with a career over fifty years in the making, Coffey has consistently broken the boundaries of style and functionality in the decorative arts.
Born and raised in New York City, Coffey initially made a career as a social worker before pursuing art seriously in 1972. Teaching himself theory and practice, he was influenced enormously by the examples made by the likes of Wendell Castle, Walker Reed, George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, and others.
In 1978, Coffey first presented his Aphrodite rocking chair (pictured above), a monumental oblong curved piece of wood which excited the market and solidified Coffey’s reputation for creativity and skill.
Coffey’s work stresses the relationship shared by people with their furniture. Coffey considers himself an artist, but draws a distinction between impersonal visual arts and furnishings. It is important to him that his creations can be used.
For Coffey, defying expectations is an important aspect of producing work. Abandoning symmetry in his designs, he prefers to create hollows and rounded shapes which people can fill. To Coffey’s eye, a piece which is perfectly symmetrical is also “quiet,” and does nothing to arouse questions or feelings in the mind of the viewer.
Coffey continues to work in his home studio, making little distinction between his design work and his life. His bold works are still a fixture on the secondary market, indicating the lasting value of his style of audacious design, which tosses tradition aside.
For a look into Michael Coffey's artistic process, please click anywhere on the text of this sentence.
American Fine Art Fair, Palm Beach, FL 2012; Design Miami/Basel, Switzerland 2011; Design Miami, Miami, FL 2010 & 11; International Contemporary Furniture Fair, NYC 2011; SOFA Chicago, Chicago, IL 2011; Pavilion of Art and Design, NYC 2011; Paris, France 2011; London, England 2009 & 11; Wright 20, Modern Design, Chicago, III. 2006 & 09; Solo/Rago, Lambertsville, N.J. 2006 & 08; Christie's 20th Century Art & Decorative Design, New York, NY 2005 & 06; Sotheby's, Important 20th Century Design, New York, NY 2003 & 06; Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertsville, NJ 2002 & 07; Philadelphia Furniture Show, Philadelphia, PA 1995 & 96; Crafts Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 1993; Crafts Park Avenue, The Armory, New York, NY 1992 & 95; Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA 1991; ACC Craft Fair, Baltimore, MD 1989 & 93; American Craft at the Armory, New York, NY 1987 & 91; Stratton Arts Festival, Stratton, VT 1979, 1983 & 84; ACC Craft Fair, W. Springfield, MA 1984 & 90; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE 1976 & 83; Northeast Craft Fair at Rhinebeck, NY 1976 & 83; Bennington Art Museum, Bennington, VT 1982; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC 1982; St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO 1982; Schenectady Museum, Schenectady, NY 1982l; Brockton Art Museum, Brockton, MA 1981; League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, Manchester, NH 1978 & 81; Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA 1981; Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York, NY 1980; Philadelphia Craft Show, Philadelphia, PA 1980; International Craft Show, Coliseum, New York, NY 1979; Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, NY 1979; Newport Art Association, Newport, RI 1979; J. M. Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI 1978; Marietta College Crafts National, Marietta, OH 197578; Designer Craftsmen Guild, Fort Wayne, IN 1976; Artist Craftsmen of New York, NY 1967–74; American Crafts Council, New York, NY 197273; Worcester Craft Center, Worcester, MA 197273; University Art Gallery, SUNY at Binghamton, NY 1971; Stamford Museum, Stamford, CT 1970.