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Arkive Acquires Half Box Ox Bone Chair (2012) by Rick Owens, a Totem of American Modernism

In its acquisition round, ’Totems for the Present,’ the Arkive community selects Rick Owens and Michele Lamy’s Half Box Ox Bone Chair, an expression of the artist’s reverence for Minimalism, combined with their taste for rare and unconventional materials.

A nod to the home furnishings of iconic American artist Donald Judd, the ivory bone chair acts as a memento mori, drawing inspiration from various cultures, from the divinatory practices of the Shang Dynasty China to contemporary syncretism.


LOS ANGELES (March 6, 2023) – Arkive, the world’s first distributed museum curated by the people, today announces its acquisition of Half Box Ox Bone Chair (2012) for its ’Totems for the Present’ acquisition round. Created by designer Rick Owens, the chair distills the collaborators’ avant-garde reductionism, which combines references to minimal, gothic, and punk aesthetics.

View the acquisition in Arkive’s collection gallery here:

Born in Southern California in 1962, Rick Owens developed a singular and well-recognized aesthetic that earned him the nickname “Price of Darkness.” He first launched his universally lauded fashion line in 1994 and his furniture design practice in 2005 with his partner, Michèle Lamy. Over the past two decades, the couple has acted as a dynamic, collaborative force creating an opulent and eccentric furniture collection inspired by the ambiance of their own private homes. Via the Rick Owens Collection, the pair continue to produce a limited number of typically-very-large objects crafted from marble, concrete, foam, leather, alabaster, and various metals and woods.

“Rick Owens and Michele Lamy are inspiring auteurs of art and design. Their works, including this Half Box Ox Bone Chair, fuse contemporary architecture and design with ancient materials and craft techniques. I don’t think the Arkive community could have selected a more evocative addition to our ‘Making the Invisible Visible’ collection,” said Tom McLeod, co-founder and Executive Director of Arkive.

The couple’s furniture designs combine pre-war Modernism, post-war Minimalism and Brutalism, channeling their more experimental references into uniquely utilitarian works of art. The works pay homage to how human civilization has long used materials and objects to adorn the sacred and to conjure the divine. Aligned with the artists’ primary thesis, the Half Box Ox Bone Chair draws explicitly from both ancient divinatory practices and contemporary syncretism.

“The Half Box Ox Bone Chair is an innovative work that pushes the boundaries of traditional and contemporaneity through the selection of materials (traditional) and minimalistic design (modernity),” said an Arkive member. “The work is a testament to the artists’ ability to bridge traditional and modern techniques and to create something that is both timeless and thought-provoking.”

Half Box Ox Bone (2012) was considered alongside Aztec Totem 4 (2019), Plug Table Grey Marble and Black Plywood 290 cm (2017), Single Prong Camel (2016), and Curial Aluminum (2022). After a series of votes, the community selected Half Box Ox Bone (2012) as the tenth acquisition in Arkive’s collection. Arkive members then worked with the Los Angeles-based Carpenters Workshop Gallery to acquire the work. Half Box Ox Bone (2012) will go on display via a long-term residency at a prominent public location, as selected by the Arkive membership.

About Arkive

Arkive is the world’s first distributed museum curated by the people. Built by alums from MoMA and Gagosian, Arkive was co-founded by Tom McLeod, a 5x founder who exited his last startup, Omni, to Coinbase, and prior to that, ran Pagelime (acquired by SurrealCMS in 2015), LolConnect (acquired by Tencent in 2012), and Imaginary Feet which developed 15+ profitable iPhone apps enjoyed by over 10 million users.

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Brook Klingel

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 Rick Owens
 Michele Lamy

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