A cacophonous summary of the grand aspirations and unrest of the late 196os, Robert Rauschenberg’s Signs (1970) was originally commissioned as a cover for Time Magazine. When the collage was rejected by the publication, Rauschenberg turned it into a print “conceived to remind us of the love, terror, and violence of the last 10 years. Danger lies in forgetting.” United States soldiers in Vietnam, peace protestors and the anonymous victim of an urban riot are combined with the images of five public figures, three of them recently murdered: President John F. Kennedy, presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. They are joined by Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, and the singer Janis Joplin, who died from a drug overdose a few months after Signs was made.
Photographed as part of the exhibit Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends, at the Museum of Modern Art Through September 17th, 2017.
Valuing geometric simplicity and economy of means, Lina Bo Bardi (1914 – 1992) designed the Poltona Bowl Chair with a steel frame and stackable seat containing two circular cushions.
The shell on the metal ring can be adjusted in all directions to suit the position of the sitter. Bo Bardi, who emigrated from Italy to Brazil in 1946, played a lead role in advancing modernist architecture and design in postwar Brazil. Among the landmark buildings she designed was her Sao Paulo home, the Glass House (Casa de Vidro) which she furnished with Poltrona Bowl Chairs.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, where it is on display for the first time as part of the exhibit, Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, on view through August 13th, 2017.
In Francis Picabia’s Selfishness (1947-48), colorful rounds of saturated paint surround a large, crudely rendered phallic shape. This relatively simple composition is energized by heavily encrusted impasto and gestural paint-handling. Built-up ridges of oil paint score the surface, giving the work a dramatic, almost frenzied topography. This sense of substrate activity speaks to Picabia’s ongoing play with surfaces, which here takes the form of accumulation and opacity. The material thickening on display in Selfishness was an artistic strategy shared by others in postwar Paris. Participants in the turn to abstraction known as Art Informel also created works with heavily textured surfaces, and they, too valued direct expression. This work’s erotic imagery finds its echo in Picabia’s contemporaneous illustrated letters, which were an important element of his artistic practice.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art as Part of the Exhibit, Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round So Our Thoughts Can Change Direction.
In this design, partly inspired by an office swivel chair, Charlotte Perriand softened the rigidity of the tubular, chrome-plated frame with a stuff cushion resting on coil springs. Because the frame and the upholstery required considerable handwork, the chair was relatively expensive and manufactured in limited numbers. Perriand used such chairs in her own Paris apartment.
This View More Closely Shows the Chair’s Curved Back Detailing
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Inspired by bentwood rocking chairs by Michael Thonet, and recumbent doctor’s chairs, the angle of repose on this Chaise Lounge LC/4 (1928) is adjusted by sliding the chromed steel frame on its stationary base. The LC/4 was a collaborative design of Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret), Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand, spearheaded by Perriand, who had designed other furnishings in tubular steel before joining Le Corbusier’s studio. The model was prominently displayed in numerous exhibition settings designed by Perriand, including the 1929 Paris Salon d’Automne and the Internationale Raumausstellung in 1931 in Cologne. Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
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 predominant hue of this sentimental postcard composition is an intense azure blue, typical of skies on the French Riviera, overlaid with bright greens, pinks, reds, yellows, whites and lines of black. The transparency of the two figures makes literal what Francis Picabia (1879 – 1953) described as the “empty” character of Cannes high society. They have no substance to speak of, their bodies merging with the surrounding landscape in a painted version of superimposition, a technique more commonly associated with avant-garde photography and film. Idyll (1925 – 27) is displayed in its original goatskin frame, built by the frame-maker and bookbinder Pierre Legrain. The frame highlights Picabia’s abiding interest in the decorative, a category often considered antithetical to “serious” art.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC as Part of the Exhibit, Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round So Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, Up Through March 19th, 2017.