An article from 1947 that clearly indicated that modern furnishings were a commercial hit in New York City during the immediate period following the war. The furnishings in particular were the product of German modernist named Klaus Grabe. A refugee from Hitler's Germany, Grabe was a Bauhaus-educated designer who had first settled in Mexico with Josef Albers before moving to New York.
Shortly after this article appeared, Klaus Grabe would write this book: Build Your Own Modern Furniture.
"Already the young architects of Italy are looking forward to a new renaissance of building, toward the production of a new style based upon modern methods of building and adapted to modern needs. The impulse to this new movement came from the brilliant Futurist Antonio Sant'Elia, who carried the ideas of the Italian innovators into the field of architecture, but whose development was cut short by his heroic death in the war... Nevertheless, his influence upon the younger architects has been great. Fortunately, they have been able to adapt his ideas to the exigencies of practical building, and in some instances to avoid a complete severing with the traditions of the past."
In an attempt to define modernism for a broad audience, architect/designer Alexander Girard curated the Exhibition for Modern Living that was housed at the Detroit Institute of Arts during the winter of 1949. It was a ground breaking exhibit that brought modernism down from the mountain and allowed people to see that modern design was intended to make life more pleasant:
"Modern design implies shape for use, simplicity, new forms to utilize new materials, easier housekeeping, and honest expression of mass production... Up the richly carpeted ramp, viewers walk up to a dining room done by Alvar Aalto; past two studies Bruno Mathsson and Jean Risom and a bedroom and living-room representing a variety of designers; then up another level to a space furnished by Charles Eames; and finally to a small balcony overlooking George Nelson's living area. The quiet simplicity of the rooms and the gentle tones of symphonic music have people talking in whispers. Sighed one woman: 'I'd like to live here.'"
Esther McCoy (1904 - 1989) was one of the few voices in Forties journalism to champion modern architecture in the city Los Angeles. Sadly, the common thinking among too many critics and editors at the time held that "Gomorrah-Sur-la-Mer" could only to be relied upon for innovations like Cobb Salad and valet parking - but McCoy recognized that the city's dramatic quality of light and odd lunar landscape combined to create fertile ground for modern architecture. Unlike other like-minded critics and historians who discovered the city in later decades, such as Reyner Banham, McCoy came to know the Viena-trained architect Rudolph Schindler, who is the subject of this 1945 article.
"An exhibition of graphic art from the United States has become a tremendously popular attraction [as it toured throughout four cities within the Soviet Union]... In the first two days more than 17,000 Soviet citizens, most of them in their teens or early twenties, came to see a gay collection of funny American posters, preposterous ads, colorful book covers and abstract prints."
"'You mean you're really allowed to paint like this, and nobody says anything?' one of the visitors asked."
Watch Jack Masey of USIA Recall the Cultural Exchange Exhibits of the 50s & 60s
To mark the opening of the Museum of Modern Art's 1938 exhibition, "Bauhaus 1919 - 1928", the over-paid editors at ART DIGEST published this single page review for it's American readers explaining what the art school was, why it closed and what was in the mind of the school's founder, Walter Gropius (1883 – 1969):
"The Bauhaus program proceeded to teach students manual dexterity, in all the crafts, to investigate the laws of the physical world, to plumb the spiritual world, and to master the machine. Out of the Bauhaus came the first experiments in tubular furniture, in modern typography, in modern lighting, and many significant developments in architecture, photography, abstract art, textile and other crafts."
Click here to read unfavorable criticism about the Bauhaus exhibit.