Midcentury American Art and Design
Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Circle
Through January 15, 2012
Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design presents the evolution of the design industry spanning 25 years, from the late 1940s to 1969. The show explores the contributions of artists and designers using craft media—defined here as clay, fiber, wood, metal, glass, and alternative materials—within a culture focused on mass-production in the years following World War II. Through their work, designers and craftsmen reacted to the plethora of machine- and mass-produced consumer appliances, furniture and textiles; at the same time a there was a growing consumer interest in the individualistic aesthetic of handmade works. Craft, which spanned the fields of product design to architecture, became a medium for social commentary, philosophy and wit, as seen in the My Mu terracotta vase by Isamu Noguchi (above), an idiosyncratic, three-legged ceramic containing a central cavity that provocatively references the Zen concept of mu, meaning “nothingness.” In addition to Noguchi, the exhibition features the work of Harry Bertoia, George Nakashima, Ray and Charles Eames, and Alexander Calder, among others.
Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art
The Morgan Library
225 Madison Ave.
Through October 2
In partnership with the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the Morgan Library presents a collection of lists. Works include drawings by 80 creative list-makers, including Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, and Elaine de Kooning. These to-dos, illustrated inventories, and collected thoughts reveal a certain intimacy, inviting viewers to find interest in selected biographical moments. Each list exposes process by creating a memory archive of sorting, narrowing, and sifting thoughts. Oscar Bluemner’s list of works of art, May 18, 1932, pictured above, is an illustrated inventory of the artist’s recent landscape paintings.