modernism

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Image features the cream-colored cover of the 1929 UAM catalog, showing the capital letters UAM in black and cream-white, aligned vertically and horizontally and superimposed on a large red circle. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Modernism Evolving
The UAM Catalogue is one of many period resources in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library that chronicle French Art Deco and the shift into modernism in the twentieth century. The UAM (Union des Artistes Modernes) was founded in May, 1929, by a group of French designers, decorators, and architects, led by Robert Mallet-Stevens, who were...
Image features a white-enameled beehive-shaped hanging lamp divided into five horizontal segments by perforated brass bands. The lamp hangs from a white cord at center top. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Aura of Light
“A lamp… [is] always part of an environment…. When working on… public building[s], I noticed that such furnishings and appliances were necessary to create the right unity, and then I designed them. The fact that later on they can also fit in another environment is another story.”[1] Lighting had become a significant part of Alvar...
Image features an upright, rectangular poster featuring a motif of a stylized cross in blue, black and orange. At the center, a kneeling man holds a bow and arrow. Decorative motifs with Dutch wording are In each of the four corners of the cross. A roundel with the words, Bestaans zerkerheid, is at the top of the composition; above this are the words: RADEN van ARBEID in blue and orange. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Designer Takes Aim
In celebration of May Day—at a moment when the essential role so many workers play in our community is at the forefront of our minds—we are re-posting a modified version of this blog by Virginia McBride originally published November 8, 2015. Formerly a 2014 Peter Krueger curatorial intern, then a Curatorial Assistant, and Cataoguer in Cooper Hewitt’s...
Image features a rectangular four-panel folding screen decorated with a large, bright orange abstracted flame-like design against a tan ground; a wide blue, and narrow green band surround the perimeter of the screen. The reverse decorated by four green spirals, one on each panel. All four panels connected with striped orange border on tan ground. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Art into Life. A Life into Art.
Flowing forms of bright orange spread upwards, flickering across the four panels of this folding screen. The work, Fire-Orange, is one of a series of folding screens the American artist Jack Youngerman made beginning in 1978. Fire-Orange exemplifies how Youngerman, who passed away on February 19th at the age of 93, thoughtfully and creatively explored the nature and boundaries...
Image features a polished chrome-plated cocktail service consisting of tall cylindrical cocktail shaker and lid, a rectangular tray with stepped rim; and six cylindrical cups with slender stems and circular feet. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Manhattan Neat
Millions of Americans wanted a drink when Prohibition was repealed at the end of 1933. Perhaps it might be better to say a legal drink? Alcohol consumption for the thirteen years after the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment had by no means stopped. In basements of brownstones and behind backroom doors, a generation of Americans...
Set of four, cube-shaped chrome-plated shakers with white plastic bases; the tops of two with engraved and pierced with a comet among stars, the comet's "tail" formed by three curved lines of holes; the other two shakers with engraved stars and holes forming the planet Saturn surrounded by a ring. Please scroll down to read the blog post about these objects.
Please Pass the Planet
The clean-lined geometric forms of these salt and pepper shakers show American modernism’s affinity for simplicity. During the 1930s the emergence of chromed metal, steel, and aluminum tableware coincided with the rise of modernist designs for everyday objects. These simple metal cubes were created with cost-effective manufacturing techniques, stamping and piercing, to create utilitarian and...
Image features an adjustable reclining rocking chair made of light brown, bent beechwood with woven cane back, seat, and foot rest, hinged to fold under seat. The chair sits on two ovals which serve as its arms and rockers. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Bending Form, Not Function
Adjustable and rockable, this reclining chair exemplifies the fusion of form and function. The chair was designed by the Udinese-based firm, Società Anonima Antonio Volpe, around 1905. The firm specialized in the production of bentwood furniture for the Italian market. This type of furniture had been made popular by the Viennese firm Gebrüder Thonet, which...
Image features a circular dish, the surface with airbrushed geometric decoration of pale peach, grey and yellow triangles and small circles on a cream-colored ground. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Spritz-Deco
A compressor rumbling. A nozzle hissing. The colorful geometric shapes decorating this otherwise straightforward dish were not painted by hand. Rather they were applied by a device novel to the world of ceramics: the airbrush. The important and prolific German designer, Martha Katzer (1897–1947), created this dish for the Karlsruhe Majolika Manufaktur (KMM) in Baden,...
Image features a brown wooden chair with straight legs and low stretchers, slightly angled back and rectangular seat, both upholstered in tan to brown fabric. The legs and frame back are decorated with square ebony inlay. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Nieuwe, Not Nouveau
Refined, rational, and demonstrably Dutch, this was the aim when Hendrik Petrus Berlage designed this chair for the Amsterdam-based firm, ‘t Binnenhuis (The Interior). This important architect and designer opened the firm in 1900 in collaboration with the insurance company director, Carel Henny, jeweler, Willem Hoeker, and interior designer, Jacob van den Bosch.[1] Motivated by...