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Long an icon of the modern movement, the Barcelona chair has in recent decades taken on a surprising new role as Hollywood actor. So potent a symbol of elevated taste, privilege and authority has Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s classic perch become that it’s now often cast as a signifier of those qualities in the movie characters to whom it belongs, both villains and heroes.

The proud possessor in American Psycho (2000) is decidedly in the former class. Patrick Bateman, the urbane, status-obsessed, homicidal bank executive of the title, lives in a sterile high-rise apartment furnished with a pair of Barcelona chairs and matching ottomans in basic black. In Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, the crime-fighting gazillionaire with a tormented soul but a refined aesthetic sense, inhabits an isolated, Miesian-style pavilion on a lake where the chairs mingle with other modern classics.


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