Sam Nichols (MFA AP15): "Shut The Door": On Baudelaire, Arlene Francis and the Ottomon Chair

Participant Review: Sam Nichols (MFA AP15)  

Sam Nichols (MFA AP 15) wrote the following post in response to the assignment of Charles Baudelaire’s “The Painter of Modern Life” in the Foundations of Criticism course. The topic of the session was modernity, particularly modernity as defined by Baudelaire in 1863. In his post Nichols wonders what Baudelaire would have made of Charles and Ray Eames Ottomon Chair as it was introduced to America on Arlene Francis television “Home” show of 1956. 


“Shut the Door. Have a Seat.”*

 *The title is a reference to Mad Men Season 3 Finale: “Shut the Door. Have a  Seat.” In this episode, we have a glimpse that things are changing. Dawn of postmodernism?


Having recently read Charles Baudelaire’s 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life” in the Foundations of Criticism course, I was left imagining how exciting it would have been for him to watch Arlene Francis’s “Home Show” of 1956, where she introduced Charles and Ray Eames’s Ottoman and Lounge Chair to the public.


Of course, he would have been 135 years old, but just the same, can you imagine him hearing Arlene Francis describe the Eames’s “desire to move freely within a world of enormous possibilities” and see how it “is combined with a very accurate sense of discrimination and taste –which of course we always see—this is an ability to select among the unlimited probabilities and return considerable richness to the world?” (As cited in NBC Debut of Eames Lounge Chair, 1956.)

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