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View of “Pierre Paulin,” 2016. Wall and floor: Diwan rug, 1992. On rug: Tongue chairs, 1967. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli.

Pierre Paulin

Perrotin | New York

View of “Pierre Paulin,” 2016. Wall and floor: Diwan rug, 1992. On rug: Tongue chairs, 1967. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli.

If the most primordial purpose of a chair is to keep your butt off the ground, then Pierre Paulin’s 1967 Tongue chair is an abject failure. This icon of 1960s design, which was recently on view among a handful of Paulin’s most famous works at Galerie Perrotin, is something closer to a cushion than a proper seat; the undulating form suggested by its name leaves its user in a semi-reclined posture, with his or her posterior separated from the floor by only a few inches of foam padding.

This arrangement is the result of Paulin’s singularly audacious decision to eliminate the legs, along with any visible structural frame, from his design. The legs of a chair are like the columns of a building—its most obviously tectonic elements, the parts that emphasize its status as a construction engineered to carry a load and resist the force of gravity. As such, legs are often given a place

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