Modern Design from MoMA Next Spring
ATLANTA, June 1, 2011 – Since its inception in 1929 The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA), has been at the forefront of recognizing pivotal moments of radical change in twentieth-century design through its exhibition and collection program. As part of the High Museum of Art’s ongoing collaboration with MoMA, “Modern by Design” will present a selection of works chronicling three key moments in MoMA’s design collection and exhibition history—“Machine Art” (1934), “Good Design” (1950–1955) and “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (1972)—that heralded groundbreaking aesthetic movements and intellectual considerations. Nearly 150 objects created by more than 120 of the most influential artists and designers of the twentieth century will be included. A companion installation will incorporate 23 works by eleven designers from the High’s growing collection of contemporary design. The exhibition will be on view exclusively in Atlanta from June 4 through August 21, 2011.
“MoMA has consistently set the bar for design aesthetics throughout the twentieth century, particularly through their creation of the first-ever art museum department devoted to architecture and design,” said David Brenneman, the High’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions. “While at the time certain exhibitions and acquisitions often sparked controversy and debate, the ideas and objects that they introduced now serve as the canon of modernist design. The High’s companion installation will extend the visitor’s design experience to the present day with new acquisitions for our own growing collection of contemporary work.”
“Modern by Design” continues a multi-year, multi-exhibition collaboration between the High and MoMA. The collaboration was launched in 2009 with “Monet Water Lilies.” Following “Modern by Design,” the High will present a major exhibition exploring the work of twelve of the most important artists of the twentieth century: Brancusi, Calder, de Chirico, Duchamp, Johns, Léger, Matisse, Miró, Mondrian, Picasso, Pollock and Warhol. A second large-scale exhibition and two additional focus shows are in development for 2012 and 2013.
The first key moment the exhibition will highlight is the year 1934, with a look at work featured in MoMA’s “Machine Art” exhibition, curated by Philip Johnson that year. “Machine Art” showcased machines, machine parts, scientific instruments and everyday objects―from springs, ball bearings, and propellers to calipers, glass wares and furniture. Displayed in the galleries against white walls with platforms and dramatic lighting, these objects were presented for the first time at the level of fine art, which celebrated their functionalism and aesthetic purity. The exhibition in turn boosted sales of these attainable American-made products and was the first in MoMA history to contribute works to the collection. Eighteen objects by 13 designers will be part of the installation at the High.
Eager to cultivate a taste for modernism and shape consumer culture at large, MoMA at mid-century exhibited numerous works of so-called Good Design including furniture, textiles, lighting and everyday objects such as vegetable peelers, an ax, a clothes hamper and a plumb bob. These were famously displayed in the competition/exhibition series “Good Design” (1950–1955), directed by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. This second highlighted moment is presented in the context of its significant precursors, the tremendously successful competitions (and their corresponding exhibitions) “Organic Design in Home Furnishing” (1940–1941) and the “International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture” (1948–1950). In all of these projects MoMA joined forces with manufacturers and designers to promote new aesthetics and affordable products. Key works in this section include furniture by the young designers Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, colorful textiles by Alexander Girard, Tupperware and abstract, sculptural lamps by George Nelson and Greta von Nessen. As a testament to their enduring popularity, some of these works are still in production today. The High will feature 109 objects by 78 designers in this section of the exhibition.
Italy: The New Domestic Landscape
In 1972 “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” addressed the idea of modernism in the context of 1960s and 1970s counterculture, and serves as the third key moment explored in the exhibition. Focusing on the international significance of contemporary Italian design as well as new ideas about casual and flexible lifestyles, the works on display illustrated the growing divergence between modernist design and radical “anti-design,” setting the tone for postmodernism in the decades to come. Aimed at youth culture and using such new materials as plastic and polyurethane foam, Pop-inspired designs such as the “Blow” inflatable chair (1967) by De Pas, Lomazzi and D’Urbino and the “Malitte” seating system (1966) by Matta have become icons of the period. Twenty-one objects by 30 designers will be part of the installation at the High.
Selections from the High Museum of Art
In conjunction with Modern by Design, the High will present an installation of late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century design drawn from the High's growing permanent collection. Two new major commissioned installations by Dutch designer Joris Laarman and the Japanese design collective nendo will be featured: Laarman’s Digital Matter and nendo’s Visible Structures. In total, eleven artists featured will represent the diversity and international character of the field today, with 23 recently acquired works, including prototypes, limited editions, and industrial production by the foremost Western and non-Western designers from two generations. Featured designers include Ettore Sottsass (Italian, 1917-2007); Johanna Grawunder (American, born 1961); Shiro Kuramata (Japanese, 1934-1991); nendo (Japanese, established 2002); Patrick Jouin (French, born 1967); Hella Jongerius (Dutch, born 1963); FRONT Design (Swedish, established 2003); Marc Newson (Australian, born 1963); Zaha Hadid (Iraqi, born 1950); Ron Arad (Israeli, born 1951); and Joris Laarman (Dutch, born 1979).
Exhibition Organization and Support
“Modern by Design” is part of the MoMA Series, a collaboration between The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. It is organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, and Aidan O’Connor, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, in collaboration with David Brenneman, Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Frances B. Bunzl Family Curator of European Art, High Museum of Art, and Berry Perkins, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Decorative Arts and Design, High Museum of Art.
“Modern by Design” is sponsored by Corporate Environments and the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam. The exhibitions and programs of the MoMA Series are made possible by Presenting Sponsor Bank of America, Lead Sponsors: Portman, The Gary W. and Ruthie M. Rollins Foundation, Delta Air Lines, Accenture, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., and Planning Partner The Rich Foundation. The Modern Masters Circle: Margaretta Taylor, Sue and John Wieland. Additional support provided by Carey and Doug Benham, Dr. Robert L. and Lucinda W. Bunnen, Mr. and Mrs. Holcombe T. Green, Jr., Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot, Paul Hagedorn, Jane and Clay Jackson, Barbara and Sanford Orkin, Catherine N. Rawson, Sara and John Shlesinger, Joan Whitcomb, Tull Charitable Foundation, Jane Smith Turner Foundation, Vasser Woolley Foundation and the Wish Foundation. Support also provided by the Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund and the Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the Southeastern United States. With more than 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American decorative arts; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005 the High opened three new buildings designed by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit www.High.org.
The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center, please visit www.woodruffcenter.org.
DIGITAL IMAGES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST