modernism

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Photograph of ceiling fixture, Rockefeller Center, 1932.
Cosmic Caldwell
Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi discusses this Caldwell lighting fixture, created for Rockefeller Center in 1932.
Coors Porcelain Company Vase
Even though the stamped marking on the underside of this vase reads “Coors Golden Colorado Pottery,” its coloring is not that of a pale ale. Rather, the exterior is painted with a cream-toned glaze, while its interior is coated in a light teal. This choice of matte glazing further calls attention to the stepped form...
Afternoon at the Museum
Little is known about this dress-weight cotton fabric, which arrived at the museum in a padded envelope with no return address. It was probably an inexpensive “novelty print” intended for the home-sewing market. This piece had been previously made up as a dirndl skirt, which requires very little shaping, so there is an uncut rectangular...
April Showers
Alexander Girard was one of the most influential textile designers of the mid-century period. Along with colleagues Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Eero Saarinen, he was a strong proponent of bringing an affordable modernism to the middle class. From 1952 to 1973, Girard served as head of the Textile Division of Herman Miller...
Celebrating the Commercial Building
Ely Jacques Kahn's design for a skyscraper, now on view in The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, demonstrates the power of the architectural drawing as an advertising tool.
Playing with Modern Design
The Wobblies show their wobbliness, which is cleverly illustrated on their box by faint wavy blue lines. Interestingly, there are two definitions of the word wobbly. The first is “inclined to wobble; shaky.” A Wobbly (capitalized) is also “a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, an international, revolutionary industrial union founded in Chicago...
Algol 11 before Apollo 11: Sapper and Zanuso’s TV Set for Brionvega
During the 1950s and 1960s, television was a cultural force both in America and abroad. Milestones that included the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II were broadcast across the world. Variety and music shows, which included “Ready Steady Go!” and “The Ed Sullivan Show,” drew youth to watch their...
The ES 108 Sofa
Ray Kaiser and Charles Eames met in 1940 after Ray entered the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Charles Eames was there studying with fellow modernist designer Eero Saarinen and would soon become head of the industrial design department.  Eames and Saarinen were working on a design for a molded plywood chair to...
Jens Risom: Master of Scandinavian Furniture
The Model 666WSP Chair, from 1943, is an example of the furniture designed by Danish-American designer Jens Risom, who died at 100 on December 9, 2016. Risom was the son of a prominent Danish architect and he, himself, is often regarded as one of the founders of midcentury modern design in America. He came to...