European Design Since 1985 at the Milwaukee Art Museum

The exhibition, open October 9, 2010–January 9, 2011, will present 250 seminal works including furniture, ceramics, metalwork, glass and product design that reveal the extraordinary creativity of 118 European designers. The exhibition defines Europe’s central role in driving design’s proliferation during the 1980s and 1990s.

The exhibition and catalogue are divided into two major movements, “Modernism” and “Postmodernism,” which reflect the dispute among designers between function and artistic concept as the leading design principle. The first section, to Modernist design, argues that the rational tendency sweeping across Europe was a reaction to early 1980s Postmodernist design, such as that of the Memphis Group. Modernist designers retaliated against exuberance with mass-produced and functional objects that paid attention to materials and looked back toward “Bauhaus” classics. The second theme explores the continuation of the Postmodern design tradition, showing a variety of objects that are purely conceptual, highly decorative, historicizing, or even kitschy. These objects blur the line between fine art, craft, and design.

European Design Since 1985 features multiple works by the most influential figures of the period’s “older generation”, such as Ron Arad and Philippe Starck, who have attained the status of design masters. The exhibition also presents a younger generation of designers for the first time, such as Tord Boontje, Maarten Baas, and Studio Job.

European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century is organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Denver Art Museum in conjunction with Kingston University, London. It is curated by R. Craig Miller of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Mel Buchanan, assistant curator of 20th Century design.

European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century is sponsored by the Museum’s Friends of Art.

Image: Mathias Bengtsson, Slice chair, 1999. Photo courtesy Martin Scott-Jupp

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published.