Frank Lloyd Wright
Arthur B. Davies
Wallace K. Harrison
J. Andre Fouilhoux
Mies van der Rohe
Designing a New World 1914-1939 to Emphasize American Works
Designing a New World 1914-1939 to Emphasize American Works
This spring, the Corcoran Gallery of Art will host the critically acclaimed exhibition, Modernism: Designing a New World 1914-1939, from March 17 through July 29, 2007. It is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition on Modernism to be staged in the United States to date and was originally organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). In fact, the Corcoran will be the show’s only American venue, following its installation at the V&A and MARTa Herford in Germany.
“This show demonstrates how Modernist art, design and architecture still affect nearly every aspect of our lives. It takes a comprehensive look at Modernism, featuring everything from teacups to buildings with no gaps in between,” said the Corcoran’s new director and president Paul Greenhalgh.
This ground-breaking and vast exhibition explores the foundation and meaning of Modernist art and design and its evolution into a mass movement that continues to impact the way we live. As it explores key Modernist movements—such as Bauhaus, DeStijl, Constructivism and Purism—the exhibition reveals how the distinctive style developed and what principles defined it. The show also investigates Modernism’s key themes, including Utopia; the role of the factory and mass production; the spiritual aspect of modern life; fascination with the healthy body and organic forms found in nature; and, national identity.
Modernism contains more than 390 works and 50 film clips and encompasses a broad range of media, including industrial and graphic design, architecture, painting, film and photography. While its works will represent 17 countries, the Washington exhibition will have a distinct American flavor, featuring American works not in the V&A’s exhibition. In fact, the Corcoran is a key lender to this exhibition, with 15 works coming from its permanent collection.
Among the key Modernist figures featured are artists Piet Mondrian, Fernand Léger, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Alexander Rodchenko, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy, Charles Sheeler, and Stuart Davis; architects and designers Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius and Richard Neutra, Marcel Breuer, Gerrit Rietveld, Marianne Brandt and Alvar Aalto.
Modernism is understood more as a loose collection of utopian ideas than a movement or single approach. Modernist artists aimed to use new art and technology to positively transform the world around them. The Modernist aesthetic rejected ornamentation, embracing abstract, geometric forms and strong colors. As such, it provided a template for the Modern world.
Exhibition highlights include:
* The first built-in modern kitchen to be manufactured in large quantities, the “Frankfurt Kitchen,” discovered recently in Frankfurt after 80 years of continual use, and the prototype for all subsequent kitchens.
* One of the rarest Modernist cars—the streamlined, dorsal-finned Czech Tatra T77.
* Paintings and collages by artists such as Braque, Picasso, Léger, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Klee and Sheeler.
* More than 15 architectural models, including legendary prototypes by Le Corbusier, Gerrit Rietveld, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Richard Neutra.
* Futurist and Utopian fashion, including suits, everyday and sportswear from Italy, Germany, Russia, France and the United States.
* An entire section relating to the “Healthy Body Culture,” including X-ray machines, films and photography.
* “Sitting on Air,” an installation of chairs, featuring the most radical and influential designs of the 20th century from such designers as Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto.
* Life-size figurines from the Triadic Ballet by the German painter, sculptor and designer Oskar Schlemmer, who taught life drawing and theater workshops at the Bauhaus.
Works Added by the Corcoran Include:
* Fernand Léger, The Mechanic, 1920, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
* Vladimir Tatlin, Monument to the Third International, designed 1920, model (based on 1920 design), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution
* Piet Mondrian, Tableau No. III 1922-25 with Red, Black, Yellow, Blue and Grey, oil on canvas, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. © 2007 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Warrenton, VA
* Wassily Kandinsky, Relations, 1934, oil and sand on canvas, The Kreeger Museum, Washington, D.C.
* Gerrit Rietveld, Red Blue Chair, 1923, painted wood, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Philip Johnson
* Frank Lloyd Wright, Office Armchair, 1904-06, painted steel and oak, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., 1948
* Pablo Picasso, Un verre sur une table (A Glass on a Table), 1913, oil on canvas, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
* Arthur B. Davies, The Great Mother, 1914, oil on canvas, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
* Stuart Davis, Study for “Swing Landscape,” 1938, oil on canvas, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
* Gustav Klutsis, Electrification of the Entire Country, 1920, photo montage and mixed media, Merrill C. Berman Collection
* Wallace K. Harrison and J. Andre Fouilhoux (designers), Theme Center— New York World’s Fair 1939, designed 1937; executed 1938, model (stainless steel, wood and plastic), Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, Genoa
Modernism: Designing a New World 1914-1939 is organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The Corcoran’s presentation is made possible through the generous support of Bernard and Sherley Koteen, the Lodestar Fund of the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, Design Within Reach, the Dedalus Foundation, Inc., and The Solow Art and Architecture Foundation.
Image: Fernand Léger, The Mechanic, 1920, Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Tickets are available online by clicking here or through Ticketmaster at (866) 448-7849. Cost is $14 adults, $12 senior/military and $10 students. Corcoran members and children under six years old are free. Modernism hours of admission are as follows: Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Tuesday.
The Press Preview will be held on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, at 10:30 a.m. at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 Seventeenth Street, Washington, D.C. For more information, media may contact PR@corcoran.org or 202 639 1867.
Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 Seventeenth Street, Washington, D.C.