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Future Perfect: Mid-Century Modern Design Drawings
Mid 20th Century Modernism's most flamboyant designers. Industrial and architectural drawings from post-war to post-moon landing.
Utopian visions were nothing new to America's architects and designers after World War II. However, triggered by an explosion of affordable real estate and hopeful consumerism, manufacturers of the post-war era followed an entirely different design approach. This new philosophy of sensuous shapes envisioned furniture, lamps and radios as almost living beings that could run out to the buyers' car.
Henry P. Glass was perfectly suited to this new visual language. Freed from his Nazi prison camp, he began his design career in America with drawings that practically walked off the paper and into production.
Television and tourism helped transform the new reality away from wartime into the future and that's where we wanted to live. Bertrand Goldberg created theaters, hospitals and apartment buildings that could have come from colonies on the Moon.
In the era when a man's vehicle could resemble his rocket ship to get there, Ron Martelet drew speedboats that could transform into their own transport trailers. His Jet-Skis of the 60s looked to be straight out of "Goldfinger."
What began as atomic nightmares transformed into space age dreams in "Techni"-colors that were no longer army drab but instead, pink, aqua and hues never before classified. Mid-Century Modernism was something completely different.
ArchiTech Gallery has assembled design drawings from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s that mark the beginning of the most accelerated period in American consumerism. "Future Perfect: Mid-Century Modern Design Drawings" opens Friday, January 9th and runs through Saturday, March 28th, 2009.
Notes on the Exhibition:
New Year. New economy. New President (Ahhh!) These are the right ingredients for a new way of looking at design. The same conditions led to a Post-War design makeover of the nation in the 1940s (Well, Truman had been President for a few months already, but otherwise...).
One thing I had noticed when I began collecting things from that period onto the end of the 1960s, was the "biomorphic" nature of industrial design. While most of the architecture was inoffensively bland, chairs, lamps, radios and other consumer products were
It was also time to feature the great Henry Glass, the most emotional of all the industrial designers. I had known the Viennese ex-patriot toward the last years of his life and bought as much of his work as I could afford. His family also became my friends and I'm trying to
The one other concept that binds Henry's ideas with those of the other designers in this show is the optimism for the future they show. Hence, the name "Future Perfect." English grammarians will also notice the specific verb tense mirrors that same optimistic certainty. Obscure or not, double entendres make the best show titles.
After two "unreviewable" shows, Architectural toys and the Carbide blueprints, it was time to confront Chicago's leading art critic. And Alan Artner agreed, in his Tribune review, with the organic nature of post war design that was my main premise and also saw that Henry Glass was like a high wire walker, "...Glass is often out there by himself, taking inspiration from many sources. Fascinating."
Despite the winter chill and economic doldrums, these drawings make my walk-ins smile. That's all I can ask these days.
click on image
|Link to Henry P. Glass's Obituary from the Chicago Tribune|
|Link to Henry Glass's Artist Biography and more images|
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