Saturday, December 29, 2012

Denver Art Museum - What is Modern?

If you are an admirer or collector of  Modern and/or contemporary art, design, or architecture, you have to visit these museums in Denver:  The Denver Art Museum, MCA Denver (Museum of Contemporary Art - Denver), and The Kirkland Museum.

My wife, Nicole, and I went to the Denver Art Museum today to view the exhibit - What is Modern? This exhibits runs through March 24, 2013.   The exhibit is small, so if you don't enjoy many variations of art, do not spend your money on this one exhibit.  There are other modern exhibitions including  "Herbert Bayer 1900 to 1928: The Bauhaus and Pre-Bauhaus Years", "Olivetti: Innovation & Identity", "El Anatsui", and  "Potters of Precision: The Coors Porcelain Company" to name a few.  Viewing all of the exhibits together is worth the admission.  Next weekend we are touring "Becoming Van Gogh".

Here is a quick picture overview along with some of my favorite pieces at the What is Modern? exhibition.


What you see is what you get.  This is the exhibit along with a few smalls not shown?  As you can see, most of the modern furniture includes chairs.  There is some lighting, graphic design and industrial piecesWith this being said, there are some great "Vintage Modern" chairs included in the show that are on my favorites list.

Frank O Gehry (1929- )  Wiggle Side Chair (1972)
One of my favorite chairs.  Method, Material, Form and Original Design are all included in this chair.  Modern at it finest. Believe it or not, this chair is made out of cardboard.  Gehry developed a process of gluing cardboard together to form massive blocks of cardboard into furniture.  Wow.

 Charles and Ray Eames - Lounge Chair (Model LCW) - Herman Miller - 1946
A molded plywood masterpiece.  Yes, the Eamses created many beautiful Modern pieces, but early in their careers, this piece helped change modern furniture design.  Another great!


Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (Dutch 1888-1964) - Zig Zag Chair (1934)
1934 - Really?  What is Modern?  This piece is made of 4 single pieces of wooden rectangles to make a single structure.  This chair follows Ludwig Mies van der Rhohe and Alvar Aalto's freestanding series.  It is a BEAUTY!!


Hans Wagner (Danish 1914-2007) Round Armchair model jh501 (1949)
Mass Production Versus Scandinavian Design Values.  As many know, there was a push and pull between Scandinavian designers, many of who were cabinet makers and architects with deep rooted design values, AND the mass production designers of America including Eames, Saarinen, and Knoll.  This chair is Wagner's response.  A chair that is simple, yet elegant. A chair with form that creates function.  A masterpiece. I love this chair.  



George Nakashima (American 1905-1990) Coffee Table (1971)
Straight out of Pennsylvania and America's vintage studio furniture mecca - New Hope, PA comes this fabulous Nakashima coffee table.  Yes, this piece is from PA, but it should stay in CO.  This single piece of walnut slab, supported by one slab leg and one tapered leg, is rustic, yet simple with Japanese styling, yet american.  It appears as if a Colorado pioneer hammered this table and threw it together, yet it is too defined, finished and thought through - it is simply modern.  Nakashima - a master modern, rustic carpenter.



Denver Public Library - across the street from the Denver Art Museum
What is Modern? Denver has done a fantastic job with public architecture.  This is Denver's flagship public library across the street from the Denver Art Museum.



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