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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Birth of the Cool

We went to this wonderful exhibit in Austin Texas at the Blanton Museum in May. ( I loved the photos of the case houses from California)

Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury

The Birth of the Cool encompasses the painting, architecture, furniture design, decorative and graphic arts, film, and music that launched mid–century modernism in the United States and established Los Angeles as a major American cultural center.

The Birth of the Cool features iconic examples of Eames chairs (Yes, I own one!) and Noguchi sculpture, a jazz lounge; film, animation, and television programming; Van Keppel Green furniture and architectural pottery; hard–edge abstract paintings; selections of art, architectural, and documentary photography.

Oh how I love Miles Davis! There is something about his music that just sets the scene, you can just envision the dark smoky lounge, hear the ice clinking in the cocktail glass the smoke swirling above the stage...
Miles Davis, whose 1949–50 recordings for Capitol Records were released in 1957 under the title Birth of the Cool, helped define “cool” for a national and global audience and was an important influence on the West Coast scene in the 1950s.
I loved how this exhibit displayed William Claxton's photos of recording sessions, the personal lives, and the Sunday jam sessions that Chet Baker, Miles Davis and other jazz artists were a part of. And the record covers...oh how cool!


In the exhibition, architectural and design innovations are examined in the work of important modernist architects Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, and John Lautner, among others, in the context of their projects for Arts & Architecture's Case Study House program. Their designs for residential dwellings are among the iconic midcentury architectural gems captured in Julius Shulman's photographs.

Considered the most influential American designers of the twentieth century, Charles and Ray Eames exemplify the joining of American ideals of creativity, optimism, and hard work with the rigors of international modernism. Their molded–plywood furniture designs, plastic chairs, and famous lounge chair embodied a modernist design sensibility while being affordable and accessible. Birth of the Cool showcases early and rare examples of Eames furniture, films, and archival materials. I found it utterly fascinating and informative. I could have watched the kaleidoscope jazz chair video over and over the way they made the famous chairs merge from one scene to the next was quite intriguing and who knew they did a movie on spinning tops??
My favorite is still the case house photos! I am looking for some reproductions to frame for a room in my house... the search continues. Oh, and the city I live in had a Julius Shulman photography exhibit at our art museum and I missed it! Shame on me!!

Julius Shulman
Photograph of Case Study House #21

Julius Shulman
photograph of Case Study House #22, (My favorite!)