The first comprehensive assessment of Western European design from 1985 to 2005a period of enormous creativity and experimentation that resulted in a proliferation of ideas and styleswill premiere at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
in March 2009. European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century will trace the evolution of design with 250 works by some of the most influential artists of this era; the show will encompass furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork and a broad range of product design created by 118 designers spanning 14 Western European countries. Along with an accompanying catalogue and international symposium scheduled for March 2009, the exhibition will define and document the driving, central role that Europe has played in design during these two decades, through an exploration of the major aesthetic and conceptual ideas that have transcended national boundaries and shaped design worldwide.
Organized by the IMA and the Denver Art Museum, in conjunction with Kingston University, London, European Design will be on view at the IMA from March 8 through June 21, 2009 and will travel to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, as well as additional venues to be announced. The exhibition is organized by R. Craig Miller, IMAs Curator of Design Arts and Director of Design Initiatives. The exhibition is supported in part by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.
Not only does this exhibition illuminate an extraordinary period of creativity and innovation in Western European design, it is a crucial step in the IMAs creation of a preeminent design department, said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Under Craig Miller's leadership, we are implementing a number of initiatives, including actively building our collection, opening new permanent galleries for our design holdings, and offering innovative design solutions for our visitors through our new Design Center."
European Design will feature seminal works by an older generation of designers, including Ron Arad, Jurgen Bey, Zaha Hadid, Hella Jongerius, Jasper Morrison, Marc Newson, Philippe Starck, Borek Sipek, Maarten Van Severen and Marcel Wanders. It will also include designs by a younger generation, such as Tord Boontje, the Bouroullec brothers, Konstantin Grcic and Studio Job.
This exhibition presents, for the first time, a new perspective through which to view the European design scene from the late twentieth century to the present, a time of great creative exploration, said R. Craig Miller, Curator of Design Arts at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. European Design will redefine two major movementsModernism and Postmodernismwhich have not only largely shaped design in Europe but have also had a profound impact worldwide, Miller continued.
One theme of this exhibition concerns the resurgence of the Modernist tradition which developed in the mid-1980s and quickly swept across Western Europe. In a strong reaction to the Postmodernist movement led by influential Italian design groups such as Memphis and Alchymia, Modernist designers were primarily concerned with producing functional objects that could be mass-produced by industry. The movement was exemplified by the three primary modes: Geometric Minimal design, Biomorphic design and Neo-Pop design.
The second major exhibition theme presents the Postmodernist tradition as a five-part movement, whose primary focus was producing objects that were more conceptual in nature and that were made in limited or studio production. Using the late 1980s as a starting point, the Decorative and Expressive design modes displayed the continued influence of design groups Memphis and Alchymia. In the 1990s, a Conceptual design mode and a Neo-Dada/Surreal design revival further served to blur the lines between design, art and craft. By the early 2000s, a Neo-Decorative movement emerged that pushed this Postmodernist tradition in other new directions.
Organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, in conjunction with the Denver Art Museum and Kingston University in London, European Design will travel to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (January 23 April 25, 2010), as well as additional venues to be announced.