Robin Day’s prizewinning design for the Royal Festival Hall chair, created for entry into MoMA’s 1948 International Low-Cost Furniture Competition, helped to launch his career as an industrial designer. Day enjoyed a long-term consultancy with Hille, the chair’s manufacturer, as well as the establishment of a studio with his future wife, Lucienne.
Epitomizing the contemporary style and technological innovation of the 1951 Festival of Britain, the chair was featured in the couple’s Home and Gardens pavilion as well as in the lounge of the new Royal Festival. The chair also appeared in that year’s Milan Triennale and was soon put into production for an international market. Robin Day’s radical molded plywood seating design appears on the point of taking flight, as if lifted off its slender steel legs by the surge of energy and hope also expressed in the Festival of Britain that year. The lemon-yellow upholstery and copper-plated legs add to the extraordinary visual vitality of this sculptural piece.
The fabric hung in the background (left) is by Austrian-born textile designer Marian Mahler, a contemporary of Robin and Lucienne Day. The yellow textile on the right is a length of Lucienne’s1958 design Mezzanine, which was presented to the Museum by Denver-based Lucienne Day collectors Jill A. Wiltse and Kirk H. Brown III.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, The Value of Good Design, on View at The Museum of Modern Art Through June 15th, 2019.
I love this large painting by colorfield expert, Ellsworth Kelly. Colors for a Large Wall (1951) is made up of 64 panels and is one of the largest paintings Kelly made during the years that he lived in France. The organization of the work, aside from the decision to arrange its sixty-four square panels in a grid, is totally arbitrary; the sequence of colors was governed only by taste, and the colors themselves were derived from commercial colored papers purchased at art stores.
The work began, as was Kelly’s custom at the time, with the creation of a collage. Using squares of colored papers left over from a previous series of collages, Kelly made a study for Colors for a Large Wall. He then precisely matched the hues of the papers in oil paints, and arranged the final, full-size panels in strict adherence to the paper model.
Ellsworth Kelly’s Colors for a Large Wall is part of the Permanent Collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Dee Dee Ramone (born Douglas Colvin), Bassist and primary Songwriter for The Ramones was born on this day, September 18th, in 1951. Dee Dee died of a drug overdose June 5th, 2002. He is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, not far from his former Ramones’ bandmate, Johnny Ramone.
Nick Gilder, one of the great unsung bubblegum glam rockers of the seventies, turns 59 today, having been born on December 21st, 1951. Here’s a clip of my favorite song by Nick, “You Really Rock Me,” accompanied by a collage of those cheesy Comment Cherry glitter graphics that anyone who was on MySpace back when it was hot shit will be sadly familiar with. Happy Birthday Nick! I hope you are still rocking!
John Deacon, bassist for Queen was born on this day, August 19th, in 1951. Although John was “the quiet one” of the band and contributed the fewest songs, he did pen Queen’s massive hit, “Another One Bites The Dust,” so he really never has to work again in his life if he doesn’t want to. Maybe that’s why he didn’t choose to join a reformed Queen with Roger Taylor and Brian May when they recruited Paul Rodgers to sing lead. Because why embarrass yourself like that if you don’t need the money? Happy Birthday, John!
Jerry Garcia, guitarist and songwriter for the Grateful Dead and undeniably one of contemporary rock music’s most enduring pop culture icons, was born on this day, August 1st, in 1942.
Today is also a day to remember the late Tommy Bolin, guitarist for the James Gang and Deep Purple, who died of a heroin overdose at the very young age of just 25, and who was born on this day in 1951.
Last but not least, Happy Birthday to Joe Elliot of Def Leppard who was born in 1959. Def Leppard can still kick any band’s ass live.