John Gordon, Yale University Art Gallery
Tuesday, June 11, 2013Mini-exhibit: 7:15pmLecture: 8:00pm
Walt Disney Museum
John Stuart Gordon will explore the varied influences and myths surrounding the appearance of modern decorative arts during the Jazz Age. Mr. Gordon’s themes are drawn from his exhibit, “A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920–1950,” to present a fully-realized view of the influence, concerns, and ambitions of modern design in America from the Jazz Age to the dawn of the Space Age. His exhibition catalogue interprets approximately 300 modernist objects from a wide range of media, glass and metals to textiles and furniture, that embraces all levels of manufacture, from bespoke sterling to manufactured cookware.
Americans, although skeptical at first, eagerly embraced modernist design during the 1920s and applied its aesthetic to furniture, housewares, textiles, silver and glass. Most histories of modern design in America begin with the 1925 Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs. While this ambitious exposition caused many Americans to realize they were out-of-step with international style, discussions of modern design had in fact been circulating through American design circles since the early 1920s.
The earliest promoters of modern design in America were German and Austrian émigrés. Their influence helped form a quintessentially American version of modernism that borrowed freely from a broad range of European influences.