Category Archives: design

HAROLD KRISEL, MID-CENTURY HARD-EDGE ABSTRACTION

Harold Krisel was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1920. He studied architecture in Chicago at the New Bauhaus from 1946-1949 on the G.I. Bill after he was discharged from the army where he served from 1942-1945. Just 26 at the time he had been interested in art since studying in New York in the 1930s with Carl Holty and Harry Holtzman. He became a member of American Abstract Artists in 1946, and retained this membership for the duration of his life. In 1942 he married Rose Breuer and the couple had three daughters.Krisel completed his graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1952.

His many influences there helped direct his course of study and his career path. Founder Lazlo-Nagy had just stepped down and the new director, Serge Chermayeff, recognized something special in this new student and committed to his education as an architect. Krises met famed artist Mondrian and developed friendships with Gyorgy Kepes, who founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT; Martin Rosenzweig, noted graphic designer; and Harold Cohen the distinguished designer and architect.

Continue reading HAROLD KRISEL, MID-CENTURY HARD-EDGE ABSTRACTION

Advertisements

JOHN HEARTFIELD :: HURRAH DIE BUTTER IST ALLE, 1935

heartfield_hurrah-2John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld; 19 June 1891 – 26 April 1968) was an artist and a pioneer in the use of art as a political weapon. Some of his photomontages were anti-Nazi and anti-fascist statements. Heartfield also created book jackets for authors such as Upton Sinclair, as well as stage sets for such noted playwrights as Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator.

Continue reading JOHN HEARTFIELD :: HURRAH DIE BUTTER IST ALLE, 1935

JEAN PROUVE’S DEMOUNTABLE HOUSES, 1944

Architect/Designer Jean Prouvé began to design portable and demountable barracks for the French army during the Second World War. After the war, the French government commissioned Prouvé to design inexpensive, effective housing for the newly homeless, prompting him to perfect his patented axial portal frame to build easily constructed demountable houses. Few of these groundbreaking structures were built, making them exceedingly rare today.

Jean Prouvé (8 April 1901 – 23 March 1984) was a French metal worker, self-taught architect and designer. He is also designated as “constructor”. His main achievement was transferring manufacturing technology from industry to architecture, without losing aesthetic qualities. His design skills were not limited to one discipline. During his career Jean Prouvé was involved in architectural design, industrial design, structural design and furniture design.Though lacking any formal education in architecture, he became one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, boldly experimenting with new building designs, materials and methods. “His postwar work has left its mark everywhere,” wrote Le Courbusier, “decisively.”

Working from the postulate that there was no structural difference between a piece of furniture and a building, Jean Prouvé developed a “constructional philosophy” whose artifice-free aesthetic of functionality and fabrication applied the same principles to furnishings and architecture. First produced in small series in the 1930s, his structures were assembled and integrated with the aid of shrewdly designed systems for modification, dismantling and moving of both furniture and buildings.

The genesis of these demountable houses came about in the early 1930s, when Jean Prouvé – up to that point an art-deco-trained metal worker who produced furniture – began to experiment with architectural structures. Entirely self-taught, to Prouvé there was “no difference between the structure of a building and the structure of a table,” as his grandson Serge Drouin explained to Dwell in 2014. By the end of the 1930s, Prouvé had refined his structural system and patented the “axial portal frame”, the two-legged structure that served as the main structural support in all of his subsequent demountable designs.

The Second World War – more specifically the end of the war and the accompanying need to quickly provide shelter to a shell-shocked French populace – provided an opportunity for Prouvé’s demountable houses to finally be put to use. According to the NGO Committee on Human Settlements, the French ministry for Reconstruction and Urban Development placed an order for 800 units, but only half of these were produced after the government soon switched to a strategy of permanent rebuilding rather than temporary housing. This sudden halt in production in France, combined with the French Government’s policies of “cultural exception” enacted after the war, left French Modernists (with the exception of Le Corbusier) “marginalized inside something of a cultural bubble” according to Claudia Barbieri, and Prouvé’s demountable designs languished in architectural obscurity for decades.

 

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, THE MIKE WALLACE INTERVIEW, 1957

The Mike Wallace Interview
Frank Lloyd Wright
9/1/57 and 9/28/57

This interview was recorded in two parts. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, talks to Wallace about religion, war, mercy killing, art, critics, his mile-high skyscraper, America’s youth, sex, morality, politics, nature, and death.

“In 1957, when Frank Lloyd Wright was 90 years old and in New York to supervise construction of his final masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum, Mike Wallace invited him to be a guest on the television show “The Mike Wallace Interview.” Their conversation was so compelling that Wallace invited Wright back for a second appearance.

Rarely has a figure of such historic importance been so admiringly yet revealingly captured. In these two free-wheeling interviews, Wright speaks out about his own work and about architecture in general–topics one might expect him to cover. Then he goes on to express his iconoclastic views on a wide range of social and cultural topics. Guided by Wallace’s questioning, America’s greatest architect emerges as a wise, idealistic, nonconformist, and uniquely self-confident man.”-liner notes, The Mike Wallace Interviews

LINA BO BARDI, Modernist Architect & Visionary Conceptualist

Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992) was born Achillina di Enrico Bo in Rome in 1914 and moved to Brazil in 1946, on something of a whim after marrying art dealer and journalist Pietro Maria Bardi.  Lina was born in Rome and attended the Rome College of Architecture, graduating at age 25, after which, she moved to Milan.  In Milan, she worked for the architect Carlo Pagani and collaborated with the architect and designer Gio Ponti. Lina opened her own architectural studio in 1942, at the age of 28, but the dearth of architectural work during WWII prompted her to work as an illustrator for many italian newspapers and magazines.  From 1942-45 she served as Deputy Director of Domus magazine. Continue reading LINA BO BARDI, Modernist Architect & Visionary Conceptualist

Richard Neutra, American Mid-Century Modernist Architecture Pt1

 

“The architect who really designs for a human being has to know a great deal more than just the Five Canons of Vitruvius.” –Richard Neutra

Richard Neutra is perhaps the most celebrated american mid-century modernist architect. Having moved to Los Angeles from Berlin in 1923, the Vienna-born architect’s american practice was centered upon southern california. Neutra’s modernist approach incorporates modernism’s clean lines and proportions, the use of honest, elemental materials, an absence of ornamentation but also adds a strong emphasis upon practicality and comfort. Continue reading Richard Neutra, American Mid-Century Modernist Architecture Pt1