In the Bechtler Museum of Modern Arts’ new exhibit “The House That Modernism Built” furniture, textile and ceramic design tell the story of the intersection of modern art and design. It sounds artsy, but the concept is basic. Show how furniture, household items and more were initially designed to solve problems as well as look good in our homes and offices.
“A lot of this furniture, you see all of the time,” said Jennifer Sudul Edwards, exhibit curator.
Edwards said gathering items for the exhibit was challenging because the pieces aren’t the shiny, well-maintained artifacts found in most museums.
“We’re showing things that have been used and well used.,” she said.
The exhibition stresses the idea that design was based more on functional needs than always aesthetics.In fact, chairs that looked basic were favorites, she said. It’s far different than how we view design today, which is often confused with style and based soley on looks. For example, dome pictured in the photo gallery below was created to address the post world War II housing shortage as well as the evolution of Charles and Ray Eames LCW chair and Aluminum Group Chair.
There’s even a Charlotte connection to the House That Modernism Built. The murphy bed, a desk and shelving unit was used at the Charlotte YMCA. (Years ago, the Dowd YMCA location used to actually house men in transition.)
The designs may be sleek and beautiful, but they were designed to fit the body and provide comfort. They were designed for function and affordability, said Edwards.
“I want people to see something that is attainable and useful. It’s not just this elegant distant cold thing,” Edwards said. “It is really is thinking about what is best for the human body. What gives comfort and what solves a problem. All of these artists and all of these designers were so utopian and they wanted to make the world a better place.”
Artists and designers featured include Victor Vasarely, Zoltan Kemeny, Kenneth Noland, Roland Lichtenstein and others.
The exhibit will be on display until September 11. Check the website for lectures, films and other activities related to the exhibit.