Last Weekend to Catch California Cool on the East Coast

shulman case study.jpgAnd what better place than Andover, Massachusetts to wear those J. Crew togs modeled poolside at the Kauffman House? This is the final weekend of the “Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury” exhibition at the Addison Gallery of American Art (a department at Phillips Academy, whereas our high school just had some poorly restored WPA murals with an off-putting madrigal theme) before it heads back to California for a stint at the Oakland Museum.

Organized by the Orange County Museum of Art and curated by Elizabeth Armstrong, the show features approximately 200 objects that examine the painting, architecture, furniture design, decorative and graphic arts, film, and music that flourished in midcentury California. The work of the usual suspects (Neutra, Bertoia, Lautner) is mixed with that of such painters as Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, and Fredrick Hammersley. New York Times critic Ken Johnson was cool with the exhibition:

There is a certain innocence about some aspects of California cool. The extraordinarily inventive Charles and Ray Eames went about their business of designing snazzy, unpretentious, eminently functional chairs, tables and other domestic furnishings without any of the utopian urgency to which early Modernist architects and designers were prone. In the show their short films of spinning toy tops and kaleidoscopically morphing chair fragments accompanied by jazz music appear animated by the childlike wonder they brought to every medium they explored.

Added Johnson, “A selection of Eames chairs is presented on tall shelves, calling to mind Design Within Reach, where their designs can still be purchased.” And wouldn’t you know? DWR is the exhibition’s major sponsor.