Between 1850 and 1950, progressive artists, designers, and architects decisively reshaped the everyday world of objects. Advocating for design reform—and by extension, social reform—they promoted a host of competing ideologies that embraced aesthetic revolution and technical innovation. This exhibition examines the complex, ever-shifting course of modern design theory and its application in Europe and the United States. Mounted entirely from the Smart Museum’s collection, the exhibition offers close readings of masterworks such as Edmond Johnson’s facsimiles of medieval treasures made for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, furniture and leaded windows designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the historic Robie House, and Marianne Brandt’s rare modernist silver tea service, which was fabricated by hand in the metal workshop of the famed Bauhaus. Together, these and other works in a variety of media give insight into the interweaving history and iconic forms that defined the domestic world of modernism during the fertile one-hundred-year period between the mid centuries.
Curator: Richard A. Born, Smart Museum Senior Curator.
Major support for Mid-Century: “Good Design” in Europe and America, 1850–1950 is generously provided by Brien O’Brien and Mary Hasten.
For more information, please visit smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/good-design