Milwaukee Art Museum Acquires Aluminum Slice Chair by Designer Mathias Bengtsson

By Editorial Team on May 4, 2011
Milwaukee Art museum Industry Gallery slice chair Mathias Bengtsson
Mathias Bengtsson. "Slice" chair, designed 1999. Aluminum; 29 1/2 x 35 x 29 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, M2011.11 Photo Courtesy of Industry Gallery

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Industry Gallery has announced the acquisition by the Milwaukee Art Museum of a limited edition aluminum Slice chair by Danish-born designer Mathias Bengtsson. The Milwaukee Art Museum’s Friends of Art supported the purchase of the important design, the first work by Bengtsson to enter the Museum’s collection.  The Milwaukee chair, number 14 from an edition of 20, is comprised of 125 stacked horizontal hand-polished aluminum slices.

Mathias Bengtsson (b. 1971), who resides in London and Stockholm, created the Slice chair concept, which weds organic shapes with cutting-edge technology, in 1999. Slice began as a hand-modeled clay form that blurs a chair’s distinction between armrests, backrest, legs and frame. The organic shape was sliced into horizontal layers, digitally manipulated, formed again by a laser cutter, and then hand assembled and polished. “Bengtsson’s chair is dazzlingly beautiful, but it also leads us to an important design question-was this chair made by man or machine?” notes Mel Buchanan, Mae E. Demmer Assistant Curator of 20th Century Design at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Bengtsson is known for cutting edge designs made from industrial and high tech materials. Slice is constructed as an assemblage of horizontal cross-sections that stack together into a distinct lateral profile.  The designer chose aluminum for its reflective quality, and each of the 125 3mm thick laser cut layers is hand waxed and polished.  The 3mm thickness provides both structural integrity and sufficient reflective edge surface to enhance the overall effect of a shimmering object.  The limited edition Slice has also been produced in plywood, cardboard and foam. Milwaukee’s version was produced by the artist for the Museum in December 2010.

“The Milwaukee Art Museum is thrilled to add Slice to our design collection,” adds Buchanan. “It is great art in questioning the boundaries of its medium. Design isn’t just about function, it can be about form and concept and beauty. In his stunning Slice chair, Bengtsson obliterates the line between art, design, and hand craft.”

About Mathias Bengtsson
Mathias Bengtsson was born in Copenhagen in 1971 and studied furniture design at the Danish College of Design (Danmarks Designskole) 1994-97. From 1992-93, Bengtsson attended the Switzerland’s Art Centre College, returned to Copenhagen and, with four other graduates, formed the design collective known as Panic.  From 1996 until receiving his degree in 1999, Bengtsson studied furniture and product design at the London’s Royal College of Art, directed by Ron Arad.  Following the RCA, Bengtsson collaborated with fellow graduates to create the design studio At the Third Stroke. In 2000, he co-founded Design Laboratory with Sam Buxton, and in 2002 established his own studio.  Bengtsson’s work is internationally acclaimed and has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe, the United States, South America and Asia and is included in major public and private collections.

About the Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum’s far-reaching holdings include more than 25,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. With a history dating back to 1888, the Museum houses a collection with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The Museum includes the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, named by Time magazine as “Best Design of 2001.” For more information, visit

About Industry Gallery
Industry Gallery specializes in 21st century design.  The gallery regularly holds single artist exhibitions representing a broad spectrum of design trends by international artists who create functional art from industrial materials.  The gallery is open Wednesday – Saturday, 11AM – 5PM, and by appointment.