Thomas Engelhart | Marble Paper Scissors

Eerdmans is pleased to present Marble Paper Scissors, a collection of papier peint architectural objects designed and crafted by Thomas Engelhart.

With Marble Paper Scissors, Engelhart transports viewers to the classical world—or rather his fantastical, giddily glitchy version of it—via an assemblage of exquisitely constructed, electrically colored obelisks, spired towers, lidded boxes, and framed mirrors, each handmade and hand-painted in fanciful faux marble or porphyry. The forms and finishes most immediately evoke Ancient Egyptian architecture and design, while other influences range from the artful craftsmanship of the Wiener Werkstätte to the madcap theatricality of American set designer Tony Duquette.


June 22-July 28, 2022


Chartreuse Parlor
14 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003

Hours: Monday–Friday, 10am–6pm

+1 212 920 1393

I’d like the work to be transporting — if it makes you dream for a wee second, my job’s done,” says Engelhart, a fashion designer turned artist. A decorative object should make you feel something.”

Eerdmans’ chartreuse-painted Greek Revival salon, increasingly a draw in its own right among art and design cognoscenti, directly informed much of Engelhart’s work. He designed the exhibit’s monumental mirror to fit the space over the mantel, handcrafting the 40-inch-by-60-inch sphere- topped frame and painting it in veiny red-and-black marble with gold-leaf detailing. Centrally installed in the salon is a 5-foot-6-inch-tall coral-colored spired tower comprising seven individual boxes; it nearly kisses the pendant light. Displayed more intimately throughout the gallery are myriad other silhouettes, from stepped boxes recalling sarcophagi and inverted ziggurats to arrays of tinted mirrors, their frames variously ocular and heraldic.

Regarding the influence of Ancient Egypt on his work, Engelhart has long been transfixed by that time and place: as a child of the 1970s, he was awestruck by the Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibit that toured the U.S. (“I was ruined for life,” he says), and he continues to find inspiration in the collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Engelhart starts each work by making a scale drawing. He then uses bookbinding board to form the structure of the piece, painstakingly cutting the panels and joining them with glue. In a separate workstream, he paints stylized stone finishes on large sheets of paper, applying inks using a variety of techniques. He then adheres the painted paper to the object. The resulting precision of proportion and joinery, and the richness of finish, elevate the work to the realm of the decorative arts.

The objects, which Engelhart began making in earnest at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, serves as an extension of his career in fashion. Based in Paris from 1997 to 2011, he thrived as a designer of menswear under his own name, and he’s designed and consulted for other houses and brands including Hermès and Dover Street Market. Drawing a comparison between the Eerdmans exhibit and the models he used to dress, Engelhart says, “This time, that green room is my muse, the base upon which to build my fantasy.”

Engelhart spent his early childhood on Manhattan’s Upper West Side before his family moved to Charleston, South Carolina. He later attended boarding school in California and studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. His adult life has been split between New York City, Paris, and Vienna, whose museums in particular inspired his turn toward decorative arts. He resides in Manhattan’s East Village.


I like to make things. For a long time, things’ were clothes; often times I make something for dinner. Now I make these rather little things like boxes and somewhat grand and marvelous things like mirrors and obelisks. It seems simple to me: if I love it, I make it. If I don’t, I don’t.”