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Judy Kensley McKie

Monkey Settee
1995
walnut and bronze
35 1/2 x 71 3/4 x 24 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance in honor of Michael W. Monroe, Renwick Gallery Curator-in-Charge, 1986–1995

Unlike the traditional settee, Judy McKie's settee has no continuous back, is curved, and has four arms instead of two. The piece is really two chairs with arms and back conjoined by a table in the middle, suggesting a stately double throne. We might imagine the monkeys of this "monkey throne" to be symbols of powerful African families just as the peacock and the chrysanthemum are emblems of ancient Persian and Japanese thrones. McKie's witty monkeys embody the character of these playful animals. Decorative and streamlined, they bring to mind Moderne designs of the 1930s and 1940s.