Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Presents “Curators Select: Recent Acquisitions, 2003-2008”
The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum will present “Curators Select: Recent Acquisitions, 2003-2008,” an exhibition featuring new additions to its permanent collection, from Sept. 12 to March 1, 2009. The exhibition will be on view in the Nancy and Edwin Marks Gallery and will highlight significant works from the 18th century to the present.
Nearly 50 works acquired during the past five years will be featured, many of which will be on view for the first time. The exhibition will include objects from all four of the museum’s collecting departments: Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design; Product Design & Decorative Arts; Textiles; and Wallcoverings.
“Thanks to the generosity of the museum’s supporters, Cooper-Hewitt is able to continue building its permanent collection,” said curatorial director Cara McCarty. “This exhibition offers just a selection of some of the important objects acquired over the last few years. We look forward to showcasing more works in the permanent collection galleries, following the museum’s forthcoming renovation.”
New acquisitions in the Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design Department include the 1928 film poster, “Symphony of a Big City,” by Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg, whose innovative use of photo montage and typography influenced the development of modern graphic design, and two 1774 prints by French artist Louis-Marin Bonnet, “The Woman Taking Coffee” and “The Milk Woman,” which are early examples of printmaking in the “pastel manner,” a technique perfected by Bonnet.
Highlights of recent additions to the Wallcoverings Department are Tracy Kendall’s 2008 “In the White Room,” a wallpaper that puts a unique 3-D spin on a traditionally flat surface treatment and reflects a new trend in wallcoverings design, and Deborah Bowness’ 1999 “Hooks and Frocks,” an illusionistic and interactive contemporary design that exemplifies a long history of trompe l’oeil in wallcoverings.
Recent acquisitions in the Product Design & Decorative Arts department include a pair of 1957 beech plywood child’s chairs by Danish designer Kristian Vedel, and architect Frank Gehry’s 1994 ribbon-like laminated maple “Cross Check” chair, pieces that reflect the trends in 20th-century furniture design of using both the practical and organic qualities of bentwood; a gold, enamel and diamond locket made between 1899 and 1908 by August Hollming, a workmaster in the Fabergé Workshop; and a teapot, cup and saucer designed in 2003 by Eva Zeisel, a recipient of the 2005 National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. Other highlights from this collection include a silver “Lotus” bowl manufactured between 1912 and 1917 by the Kalo Shops, an innovator of the American Arts and Crafts aesthetic combining hand-crafted technique with commercial sales; Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka’s 2001 “Honey-Pop” chair made completely of paper, which exemplifies the new trend of combining standardized manufacturing with elements of usercustomization; and examples of mid-18th-century tin-glazed earthenware from Moustiers, France, part of an ongoing gift from Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw, that will help enhance scholarship in this field.
New acquisitions on view from the Textiles Department include an early 20th-century Tunisian tie-dyed wool headdress woven in the sprang technique, an ancient method of loom-plaiting that, in its finished form, resembles knitting; the 2007 “Massive Paisley” by Maharam Design Studio, which juxtaposes a traditional decorative pattern with the scale and boldness of contemporary pop art; and Sheila Hick’s 1997 “Cour de Rohan,” a textile made of heavy, embroidered linen, a paradigm of her unique and prolific creation of dense, sculptural textiles.
Under the leadership of curatorial director Cara McCarty, Cooper-Hewitt has undertaken an ambitious acquisitions strategy, with a particular focus on enhancing the quality, depth and coherence of the contemporary collection. The Collections Committee, led by Cooper-Hewitt trustee Elizabeth Ainslie, evaluates future gifts and purchases for the collection based on the level of design innovation, workmanship and virtuosity. “Curators Select: Recent Acquisitions, 2003-2008” will display objects made in the past 250 years that were acquired to expand the breadth of the collection and augment the museum’s contemporary holdings.
Cooper-Hewitt’s permanent collection of design work is one of the most diverse and comprehensive in the world. It traces the history of design through more than 200,000 objects spanning more than 24 centuries, from ancient Greece of the Archaic Period (sixth century B.C.) to the present. Recently, Cooper-Hewitt’s curatorial focus has shifted to include more exhibitions built around its permanent collection, allowing the museum to examine the impact of design through reflection on its own history. This fall, the museum will present two large-scale collections-based exhibitions, “House Proud: 19th- Century Watercolor Interiors from the Thaw Collection” and “Wall Stories: Children’s Wallpaper and Books.”
About the “Selects” Series
“Curators Select” is the eighth exhibition in a series of small, one-gallery exhibitions in the Nancy and Edwin Marks Gallery. The museum invites guest curators from around the world, including artists, journalists, authors and designers, as well as Cooper-Hewitt’s curators, to create exhibitions and installations interpreted in their own voice from works in the museum’s permanent collection.
Previous guest curators include novelist, design critic and public radio host Kurt Andersen; Dutch designer Hella Jongerius; Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare; the innovation and design firm IDEO; and the Brazilian designers, the Campana Brothers.
About the Museum
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and publications. Founded in 1897 by Amy, Eleanor, and Sarah Hewitt—granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper—as part of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the museum has been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1967.
Cooper-Hewitt is located at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue in New York City. Hours are Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Public transit routes include the Lexington Avenue 4, 5 and 6 subways (86th or 96th Street stations) and the Fifth and Madison Avenue buses. General admission, $15; senior citizens and students ages 12 and older, $10. Cooper-Hewitt members and children younger than age 12 are admitted free. For further information, please call (212) 849-8300 or visit http://www.cooperhewitt.org. The museum is fully accessible.
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