Mid-Century Modern—In 1933?

THE DAILY PIC: In MoMA's design-collection show, America's swooping lines of the '30s seem to come back to life in the 1950s.

Installation images of "How Should We Live? Propositions for the Modern Interior"

MY DAILY PIC (#1696): This great lamp and table by Frederick Kiesler were made in the early 1930s – something like 20 years before I would have guessed. They’re in the lovely show called “How Should We Live? Propositions for the Modern Interior,” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It surveys European and American design from the 1920s to the 1950s.

I wonder if that show doesn’t help us tell a story that goes something like this: A certain kind of homegrown, futuristic, swervy design starts taking off in the U.S. in the late 1920s and early 1930s, only to be supplanted by the “purer” modernism sponsored by Bauhaus émigrés and MoMA itself. Then, as America asserts itself after World War II, both culturally and in terms of raw power, the earlier tradition of wackier, more rounded forms comes back to life, giving birth to the Mid-Century Modern of the Eameses, George Nelson etc.

Or at least, that’s a story that helps me feel less stupid for having misdated the Kieslers by two decades. (©2016 The Museum of Modern Art, photo by Martin Seck)

 For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


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