Monday, November 10, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Curtain Call

I've been entertaining myself with this blog on modernism
for quite a while, but I have run out of things to say.

I haven't quite run out of pictures, however,

so here are a few I couldn't find a place for.

I'm not saying I won't pick up the thread again if I find something
new to say about the history of modernism and textiles.

If you subscribe by email you'll get a post notice if I 
resume blogging here.

Otherwise, as Bob Hope, spokesman for my
parents' generation, used to say...

"Thanks for the Memories."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Tale of Two Chairs

Display at the Musee des Arts Decoratif

My friend Roseanne and I met her daughter and a friend in Paris last summer. My favorite place was the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in the Louvre. Roseanne likes medieval. I am looking at modern.

The Museum of Decorative Arts has an impressive display of modern chairs, which you can view from above. I was exclaiming; Roseanne was unimpressed. She said, "I've got a pair of chairs just like those in my basement." I couldn't figure out which one she was talking about, but I figured I'd better confiscate them when we got home.

Now I realize she was pointing to the dark brown chair in the
center here.

She was quite happy about my confiscation of the chairs although they did a good job of holding the laundry. She'd gotten them from her late father-in-law's house years ago. She never liked them.

She even delivered. They are not in perfect shape
but they cleaned up nice.

Here they are with our Christmas donation
quilt for the 2014 Festival of Trees fundraiser.
The City Sewers paper pieced it using the
 Geese in the Forest pattern from Twiddletails.

See the pattern here:

The chairs seem to be a form of the"Dax "chair designed by Charles Eames,
manufactured by Herman Miller.
This version is called a "Dax Rope-Edge Chair."
The shell is turquoise fiberglass, the upholstery
white naugahyde.

Sara Chappell's quilt (design by American Jane)  is on the wall here 
in the entrance hall in my new 1970 modern house.
UPDATE: See the CrissCross pattern by clicking and scrolling way down:

A restored pair of upholstered Dax chairs

The stickers on the bottom of mine indicate they were from an Air Force
Officers' club (Roseanne's father-in-law was in the Air Force.)

I found one just like them on line. It said the white chairs
were from 1954. The chair in Switzerland still has the Herman Miller stickers. Mine don't.

Here's my favorite thing about Mid-Century Modernism. While I haven't found a Stickley chair gathering dust in any one's basement in a long time, it is indeed possible to find great examples of the modern genre at garage sales and in the cellar. 

This week's garage sale finds:
25 cents each!
They are huge!

People are often glad to see this stuff go. Some folks are just not modern.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Neckties

Neckties from the 1940s and '50s
were the acme of modernism.

Some were advertised as hand-painted
as in this R monogram tie.

Many companies had a hand in the fad. Here's a tie 
signed the California Artists Guild.

Ardley of Hollywood
Hand Painted

A "Studio Stencil"


Some look airbrushed

Others cut from continuous pattern yardage

but many feature a graphic designed
to fit the form, probably silk-screened.

Here's a crazy quilt from an online auction

The variety of embroidery stitches might make one think it was late
19th century...

but the necktie shape and imagery is a giveaway to mid-20th-century.

1951 ad from the Cutter Cravat company of Chicago

The copy:
"Styled for You!
A Confident...Secure...Right Feeling is yours when
you wear a Cutter Cravat Artist Original. Friends will
compliment your taste."

And people ask why my generation rejected middle class culture.

Well, not all of us.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Modernism Takes a Break

Magazine design, 1966

The modern movement in the visual arts is often defined as mid-20th-century modern, although the movement began in the late-19th century

A modern room about 1910

as a reaction to the past.

It's difficult for us to decide about the decorating
trends in this room from the same time period.
Is it modern or not?
Certainly the stove disguised as a baroque
piece of furniture is not modern---but
that wallpaper might be the ultimate in new trends.

There was often a conflict for
advocates of modernism. In Europe
the rising agressive nationalism was
in conflict with the so-called international
style. Some were conflicted about rejecting
their glorious design past.

In establishing a national identify worth fighting about, politicians advocated
incorporating folkloric designs into modernism.

Modern adaptation of German peasant dress in Hitler's Germany.

In the U.S. modernism was combined with 
a "colonial" look to create an invented glorious past,

an "authentic" traditional look.

The Colonial Revival was a popular mish-mash
of modern and not modern.

About 1970, modernism became old-fashioned (an oxymoron if there ever was one.)

1) Taste swings between cluttered and austere.
People were tired of visual austerity.

It was time for a Victorian revival

2) New generations want to distance
themselves from Grandmother's taste.

The 1936 movie may have been called Modern Times,
but the trendy set looked old-fashioned by 1975.

3) Modernism had a lot of rules. The younger
generation was interested in eclectic design

Could Grandma have been modern?

4) We had a hard time identifying modernism

Metal furniture by Norman Bel-Geddes

and what we could identify we didn't like.

All of which sent modernism into retirement.
Until everything switched again.

The 21st century's younger generation wants to distance itself
from the taste of the old. 

Austerity has replaced clutter.

Chair by Norman Bel-Geddes

And modern is hip again.
(Oops! My nephews told me not to use the word hip. It's not hip.)

How about:
 Modern is groovy again.
You see my point.