Jacob Lawrence (1917 – 2000) once wrote, “For me, the most important function of art is observation.” He was inspired by and created works based on his own experiences of everyday life in Harlem and the history of African Americans the United States. In The Wedding (1948), Lawrence simultaneously depicted the solemnity and the joy of the marriage ceremony. Although the preacher’s face is only partially defined, he appears to look down with great seriousness at the couple as they contemplate their vows. The large, colorful urns overflowing with brilliant flowers signify the prosperity of this union
Edward Hopper’s Seven A.M. (1948) depicts an anonymous storefront cast in the oblique, eerie shadows and cool light of early morning. The store’s shelves stand empty, and the few odd products displayed in the window provide no evidence of the store’s function. A clock on the wall confirms the time given in the title, and indeed the painting seems to depict a specific moment and place. Yet a series of Hopper’s preparatory sketches reveal that he experimented with significant compositional variations, depicting a figure in the second story window. He even considered setting the painting at another time of day. His wife, Josephine Hopper, a respected artist herself, described the store as a “blind pig” — a front for some illicit operation, perhaps alluding to the painting’s forbidding overtones.
After Kurt Seligmann (1900 – 1962) settled in Paris, his sinister, biomorphic compositions gained the attention of Andre Breton, who invited him to join the Surrealist group in 1937. With the outbreak of World War II, Seligmann became the first Surrealist to arrive in New York, and he was instrumental in the emigration of most of the movement’s leading figures. Transformed by contact with new cultures, Seligmann’s work continued to evolve, and as the Surrealist’s acknowledged expert on magic, he infused his paintings with mythology and esotericism. Indeed, the year he made this work, Magnetic Mountain(1948) he published The Mirror of Magic, a history of the occult. The winding forms and mystical quality of this canvas would influence a new generation of American artists, including his student, Robert Motherswell.
Childhood friends Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr formed Wham-O in their Pasadena garage in 1948. They championed outdoor fun that demanded children’s energy — throwing, catching, hip-swinging, sliding — and ample space.
Wham-O jumped from fad to fad: Frisbees, Hula Hoops, Superballs, Slip ‘n Slides, Silly String and Hacky Sacks are just a few of Wham-O’s inventions.
Photographed as part of the Exhibit Play! at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles.
This Chaise Lounge (prototype 1948) by husband wife design team Charles and Ray Eames was inspired by Gaston Lachaise’s1927 sculpture Reclining Nude, and nicknamed “Lachaise,” after the artist. It did not receive a prize in MOMA’s International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design because it was considered to specialized in us and too expensive to manufacture. However, it was highlighted by the judges, who admired its striking, good-looking and inventive molded construction.
La Chaise finally went into production in 1990, and is now one of the Eames‘ signature works.
The Indian Chief Roadmaster was designed as a handsome, comfortable rival to Harley-Davidson’s heavyweight touring bikes as Americans took to the road in the years following World War II. Indian’s top model, the Chief Roadmaster (1948) exuded power and style. Note the Indian Head on the front fender as well as the custom-fringed leatherwork. Now, imagine how it would look flying in the wind as the bike speeds toward the horizon!
Photographed in the Autry Museum pf the American West in Los Angeles, California.
Dorothea Tanning (August 25, 1910 – January 31, 2012) was an American painter, printmaker, sculptor, writer and poet. Her early work was influenced by Surrealism, and she was the 4th and final wife of famous German surrealist Max Ernst (1891 – 1976).
In her own words Tanning noted the following about On Time Off Time:
“What I remember most about this picture is the support. It was a piece of wonderful linen that I stretched and prepared myself. It was the only time I ever did any such thing. And then, of course, when it was done, I felt I had to make some rare precious picture on it, and I think the words I used were the key to the enigmatic quality that I wanted.” Other than that, not much is known about this painting’s meaning.
Dorothea Tanning died at her home Manhattan in 2012, home at age 101 – wow!
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.