Photographed By Gail in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum
In the mid-to-late 20th century, an atmosphere of innovation and a desire to question the tenets of modernism led some designers to explore a variety of ways in which to shape space. American Architect and Designer Alexander Hayden Girard utilized color and pattern in textiles, particularly in this colorful abstract, or folk art-inspired work for Herman Miller.
Photographed at Albertz Benda Gallery with Robot Cabinet By Ettore Sottsass
By 1970, Japanese Architect and Interior Designer Shiro Kuramata (1934 – 1991) was introducing alternative materials such as acrylic and industrial plate glass into his furniture. Utilizing a newly developed adhesive, Kuramata achieved material and visual minimalism with this Glass Armchair (1976). Flat planes of glass are bonded together along their edges, without mounts or screws, to create a functional chair that seems simultaneously visible and invisible. The transparent form invites users to question notions of materiality, utility and comfort.
Kay Kurt (b. 1944) is a New Realist painter of large-scale confections. Her candies lay the foundation of her compositions, structuring her canvases abstractly, and freeing her to meditate on content. As Richard Hamilton, Robert Watts and Claes Oldenburg also used candies as subject matter — and she often enlarges the scale tenfold, like a billboard — Kurt’s work became associated with Pop Art early on. The scale of the Pop Art movement opened Kurt’s eyes to the possibility of a new vision based on objects instead of landscape.
Typical candies featured in her body of work include Licorice, Bon Bons, Jordan Almonds, Jujubes and Gummi Bears. She chooses and collects these candies from various countries, being specifically interested in those of German origin, which reflect the values, attitudes, and cultures associated with the people who produce them. She does not used mediated or advertising images like the Pop Artists, nor photographs like the Photorealists. These paintings are developed through observation. Kurt prefers painting generic-looking candy, as the luxurious ones are too refined for her taste. The sole instance of exquisite candy in her oeuvre is a Godiva chocolate box painting that she made for a friend. Her choice of subject reflects her interest in mass production and consumer culture around the world.
Compulsive and exacting to an extreme, Kurt can take years to complete a canvas. As the 1980s progressed, Kurt gradually found herself excluded from the New York art world where she had found acclaim for over a decade. Although never giving up on her painting practice, she almost completely withdrew from the public eye and it was not until her inclusion in the 2010 traveling exhibition, Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968 presented at the Brooklyn Museum, that her work was re-introduced.
Hallelujah (1995-2016) is part of the exhibit Kay Kurt: For All Her Innocent Airs, She Knew Exactly Where She Was Going, on view through February 16th, 2017 at Albertz Benda Gallery, Located at 515 West 26th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.