20th century

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Image features four horizontal rows of people and trains, rendered in black ink on paper
Spot the Difference: Steinberg Edition
Born in Romania in 1914, Saul Steinberg once described himself as “a writer who draws.”[1] Steinberg fled Europe in 1941, settling in New York City by 1942. While living in the United States, he traveled widely and observed the world around him in a highly whimsical style with an eye toward criticism and satire. Steinberg’s...
Fruits of all Stripes
From squash to cherries and peppers to pineapple, Marion Weeber’s button designs are as simple as they are charming.  Her evocative shapes, bright colors, and whimsical stripe patterns unify this disparate array of fruits and vegetables, drawn in graphite and painted with watercolor.  The buttons themselves were made of individually molded celluloid-a synthetic plastic.  Cooper...
“… of course, it’s electric!”
“The Battle of the Centuries” was a dish washing contest between Mrs. Drudge and Mrs. Modern, between hand washing vs. electric dishwashers at the 1939/40 New York World’s Fair. This contest promoted all the benefits of modern appliances and is part of the history of new and improved technology in the modern age. The Cooper Hewitt Library...
Tea, anyone?
Until the 1920’s, the tea industry’s main outlet was Great Britain, where consumption had been rising significantly since the beginning of the century[1]. This situation changed after the First World War and the economic crisis following the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Traditional surpluses in tea production from British India and Ceylon surged, while increasing pressure...
Extravagant Interior by Tommi Parzinger
I was lucky enough to have lived with Tommi (Anton) Parzinger furniture as a teenager. I was raised in a modern house, and my mother worked with an interior designer who ordered several Parzinger pieces, a brass-studded sideboard, a brass chandelier and a coffee set. Today my sister has the sideboard and I have the...
Horizontal red and black poster in which two military leaders pull a cart of symbolic figures across a field. Behind the cart, three figures are sprawled on the ground. Red and white Cyrillic text is printed in the top right.
A Graphic Field of Bayonets
In this Soviet poster designed by Dmitri Moor, cartoonish figures trek across a dark landscape transformed by war. Along the lower border, Moor substitutes bloody bayonets for blades of grass, implying that Soviet land is hostile to these travelers, all of whom are enemies of the Bolshevik cause. The poster satirizes Soviet adversaries in both...
Measure: Behind Enemy Lines
“Escape and Evasion” maps were given to airmen during World War II to avoid capture behind enemy lines. Such maps were one of many in the military man’s arsenal, but in some respects this navigational tool represents one of the most significant products of war-era ingenuity. This Pacific Ocean “drift map,” scaled at 1:4,000,000, illustrates...
Communicate: Instant Photography Before the Internet
From the archives, an Object of the Day blog post on the Polaroid SX-70,. The 1972 point-and-shoot camera revolutionized instant photography. Now on view in Bob Greenberg Selects.
Six blocks of text outlining Stalin's 1931 "Six Conditions" speech overlap a black and white photo of Stalin. Additional quotes from the speech, printed in red and black Cyrillic appear to the right of Stalin's head at an angle against a cream-colored section. Above this, the speech's title appears in red, against a grey background.
Designing for a Dictator
Bold text surrounds a black-and-white photograph of Joseph Stalin in this Soviet poster from 1931. The poster was designed to reinforce the tenets of a speech by the leader, delivered to a meeting of industrial managers in June of the same year. The speech outlined six conditions for new industrial development, all of which are...