History of modern design /

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Main Author: Raizman, David Seth.
Format: Book
Published:Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall ; London : Laurence King Pub., 2004.
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The material and methodology for this book were developed over eight years of teaching a course entitled History of Modern Design in the College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, and almost twenty years of general undergraduate art history teaching experience. During these past eight years it has been rewarding to hear students reflect upon everyday objects in relation to the values and attitudes of their time, to consider the complex interplay of technological, commercial, social, and esthetic considerations that deepen our understanding of their beauty and the range of their meanings. One of the persistent difficulties in offering this course over the years has been the issue of a textbook. History of fine art courses are far more common than those in the history of design, and there is no shortage of art-history texts to provide images and narrative to accompany general and more specialized courses relating to a variety of periods and movements. Yet despite the many colleges and universities that educate professional industrial, interior, graphic, merchandising, textile, and fashion designers, I found in my teaching that no introductory text served the needs of a course that integrated material from a broad range of specialized design fields over the past three centuries. Rather than being limited to a single area like graphic design or industrial design, the present survey covers the history of these fields in relation to one another and the common themes they share, whether technology, production, consumption, or reform. At first I relied upon a list of reserve readings, and in time supplemented these with my own outlines for lecture notes available through the university's computing services center. Subsequently I received a grant from the university to create a website that allowed an appropriate format to be developed for the presentation of a combination of text links and images for study and student preparation. Putting these notes into book form has been for me a formidable task. The required reading, travel, and study took me far from my own original training in the art of medieval Spain, requiring substantial historical perspective to provide a context for studying the objects and a desire to follow through with combining perspectives from both consumption and production for each chapter. In the course of writing and re-writing, I tried to organize the material both chronologically and thematically. Briefly stated, the themes are: SPECIALIZATION AND THE TECHNOLOGY OF MATERIALS AND PRODUCTION REFORM AND THE ROLE OF STANDARDS FOR DESIGN THE EQUALITY OF THE ARTS DESIGN FOR MECHANIZED PRODUCTION "GOOD" DESIGN AND POPULAR CULTURE PLURALISM AND DESIGN In preparing this History of Modern Design I have benefited from a number of previous studies, beginning with most students' (of my generation anyway) introduction to modern design history, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's Pioneers of Modern Design, and including more recent titles such as Penny Sparke's An Introduction to Design and Culture in the Twentieth Century (1986), Adrian Forty's Objects of Desire (1986), and Richard Woodham's Twentieth-Century Design (1997). There is also the excellent series of books by a range of specialists published by Oxford University Press. These include a number of volumes devoted to period styles ( Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus, for example), as well as John Heskett's excellent Industrial Design (i98o). Also, Phillip Meggs's History of Graphic Design is a most informative survey of that material with a strong emphasis in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As I began teaching the history, of modern design, I found myself drawn to the period room and decorative arts galleries of museums rather than to their Painting and sculpture galleries. As a result I've been pleased to observe, in my adopted city of Philadelphia,, that the Philadelphia Museum of Art has redesigned its galleries to merge fine with decorative art in a way which can only aid in the appreciation of our subject. It is also encouraging to note the recent increase in art-historical journals that have devoted issues to the applied arts, and those monographs that have done much to promote interest in the history of design. It is necessary to ma few of the latter, as they greatly aided in formulating many of the sections for the individual chapters that follow: Nancy Troy's Modernism and the Decorative Arts in France. Art Nouveau to Le Corbusier, the Guggenheim Museum's massive catalogue for The Great Utopia. The Russian and Soviet Avant-garde, 1915-1932 exhibition, the American Craft Museum's catalogues for their series of exhibitions on domestic design entitled The Ideal Home beginning with the period from 1890-1910, and Debora Silverman's Art Nouveau in Fin-de-Siecle France: Politics, Psychology, and Style. Many of these books incorporate ideas drawn from a significant literature on the study of consumption, stemming less from art history than from social anthropology and the field of popular and mass culture. Aside from those mentioned above, a number of exhibitions and their accompanying catalogues introduced me to a wide range of material that has been incorporated into this text. These include German Graphic Design (2001), Godwin (2000), and Swedish Glass (1997) at the Bard Graduate School in New York; Henry Dreyfuss at the Cooper Hewitt (1998), the traveling collection of chairs and other furniture from the Vitra Museum in Switzerland (1999-2ooo) at the Allentown Museum and the Cooper Hewitt; Mackintosh (1994) and American Modernism (2000) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1994); the Aluminum by Design exhibition at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh and the Cooper Hewitt (2000-2001); the Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century exhibition in Philadelphia (2000); Will Price at the small Arthur Ross Gallery in the Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania; and the extensive Art Nouveau exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (2000). Recent monographs stemming from renewed interest in A. W N. Pugin, Christopher Dresser, Russel Wright, C. R. Mackintosh and others are filling gaps in our knowledge and bringing new material to light, including the publication of primary source material and a wide range of visual material: they are among the numerous healthy signs of growing public and scholarly interest in an area with wide-ranging appeal to students, artists and designers, art historians, and collectors. Great Britain remains most active in the field of design history, through a variety of conferences, the Journal of Design History, the Design Research Society and its on-line publication Design Research News (DRN), and the number of courses offered at colleges and universities. Finally, the journal Design Issues not only contributes articles on the methods of designers but also frequently offers historical perspectives and reviews. It is my hope that the approach to this introductory text will be viewed as balanced and tolerant, and that the analyses will promote appreciation and suggest the synthesis of description and a framework based upon the interconnections of social, commercial, esthetic, and technological perspectives on design. In addition, as a teacher I have always enjoyed the challenge of comparing works of art from different or even successive time periods that share formal or ideological similarities. I am happy for the students in the College of Media Arts & Design who have made the study of design history part of their education and hope that what they have learned will in some way be incorporated into the contributions they are certain to make to their chosen design professions. Excerpted from History of Modern Design by David Raizman, Laurence Pu King All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.