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Emil Milan Handmade Decorative Nut Bowl in Lapacho Wood, 1970s


Emil Milan handmade decorative and functional nut bowl in Lapacho Wood, 1970s. Emil Milan (May 17, 1922-April 5, 1985) was an American woodworker known for his carved bowls, birds, and other accessories and art in wood. Trained as a sculptor at the Art Students League of New York, he designed and made wooden ware in the New York City metropolitan area, and later in rural Pennsylvania where he lived alone and used his barn as a workshop. Participating in many woodworking, Craft, and design exhibits of his day, his works are in the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery, the Yale Art Gallery, the Centre for Art in Wood, the Museum of Art and Design, and many private collections. Once prominent in Mid-Century Modern design, Milan slipped into obscurity after his death. His legacy has been revived by an extensive biographical research project that has led to renewed interest in his life, work, and influence early life and education: Milan was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey[b] and graduated from Abraham Clark High School in Roselle in 1940. He took up wood carving at an early age and learned shop skills from his father, who was an Industrial welder. Attesting to his skill, one of his teachers paid him to carve a small wooden cow for her veterinarian brother. He enlisted in the US Army in 1942, served as a Military Policeman in Europe during WWII, landing on Omaha Beach just after the invasion and advancing across France with the 1st Army. During that time, he continued occasional carving and produced provocative female figures for his fellow soldiers that he called "3D Pinups." He was honourably discharged in Monmouth, NJ on November 17, 1945. Supported by the GI Bill, he studied art and sculpture at the Art Students League of New York starting in 1946, enrolling in classes taught by noted artists Will Barnet, Jose De Creeft, William Zorach, and John Hovannes. The sculpture courses focused on the tools and techniques of modern sculpture and on the human figure.[6] Both de Creeft and Zorach taught then new methods of direct carving (taille directe) and both produced stylized forms, particularly of women. De Creeft also produced works in wood. Early career: After leaving the Art Students League in 1951, Milan continued carving figural works and what he called “functional sculpture” in wood (bowls, trays, spoons, and other accessories) at his parents' home in Roselle. During that time he met Myra and Stan Buchner who were forming a new Craft association called New Jersey Designer Craftsmen, and he began selling his works in the group’s Christmas shows. The annual Christmas exhibition at the Newark Museum of Art was also a major sales outlet for Milan between 1953 and 1964. A cutting board with a scoop and a carved bowl made by Milan were selected for the landmark exhibit Designer Craftsmen, USA 1953.[9] The exhibit toured the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Art from October, 1953 through August, 1954, then traveled throughout the United States for a year. In 1953, the Buchners partnered with David Kittredge to form a woodworking business called Buckridge Contemporary Design, located in Orange, NJ. Milan was the designer, set up and ran the shop, and supervised a small group of workers. The shop produced functional wooden tableware and decorative art in wood, notably stylized fish and birds. These works were sold in specialty shops and department stores in the New York City metropolitan area. Hammacher-Schlemmer, for example, marketed a Table Talk line of wooden ware crafted by Milan. Other retailers included Bonniers, McCutcheons, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Buckridge items were included in the model home displays of House Beautiful magazine that were shown at international exhibitions in 1955-1956 in Paris, Milan, Barcelona, and Bari, Italy. A 1956 article in the New York Times by Home section editor Betty Pepis also featured objects produced at Buckridge. The business was disbanded by late 1959. In 1957, a carved tray and two spoons by Emil Milan appeared in the Design Wood exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Craft (now Museum of Art and Design) in New York City. The three works were purchased by the American Craft Council for the Museum's permanent collection. The May/June 1957 issue of the American Craft Council's magazine Craft Horizons had a feature article on Emil Milan, focusing on his tools and methods of work. Also in that issue, Milan's bird shaped hors d’oeuvres server was featured in the Designers Showcase section of the magazine. The then American Craftsmen's Council launched its traveling exhibit program in 1960 with a "Communication in Craft" exhibit focusing on wood and on fiber arts. Three works by Milan were selected for the "Craftsmanship in Wood" display. The exhibit started at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (NYC), January 8 - February 15, 1960, then travelled to museums, schools, and Craft groups across the US. The exhibit included leading woodworkers of the day such as Wharton Esherick, Joyce and Edgar Anderson, Sam Maloof, Bob Stocksdale, and George Nakashima, as well as leading designers such as Charles Eames, James Prestini, and Tapio Wirkkila. Whether furnishing a contemporary Soho loft or stylish post-war Park Avenue penthouse, an artistic Central Park townhome or your eccentric Brooklyn brownstone, our team is happy to help. We ship anywhere, so we can also assist you with that retro Palm Springs pool house, unique Hollywood Hills estate or chic Paris pied-à-terre!


  • Condition
  • Dimensions

    H 3.5 in. x W 10.25 in. x D 5.5 in.

    H 8.89 cm x W 26.04 cm x D 13.97 cm

  • Seller location
    New York, NY
  • Reference number

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