Modernism: Designing a New World 1914–1939
Corcoran Gallery of Art
March 17–July 29
Utopian visions drove the modernists to white-walled distraction, sparking a professional passion for glass boxes that has yet to abate. This wide-ranging exhibition from London's Victoria & Albert Museum crosses the Atlantic with the most comprehensive collection of modernist models and prototypes ever assembled, including 17 originals by Le Corbusier, Gerrit Rietveld, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Richard Neutra. In scholarly fashion, teacups and paintings get equal billing in the utopian construct of modern life as it was handed down to us. Twenty galleries dedicated to the evolution of Bauhaus theory will remind how the embrace of technology and the abandonment of ornamentation played out across art and design. Corcoran director Paul Greenhalgh notes that today, “Many of us have become very anxious about the lack of ideals in those arts that change people's lives.” He recommends immersion in the heady ideals of the past—including a surprising interest in the environment, nature, and health—as inspiration for “the next modern, a rejuvenated idea of progress.”
Decorative Arts of the Kings
High Museum of Art
March 3–September 2
The High Museum's three-year partnership with the Louvre brings Gobelins tapestries, Sèvres porcelains, silver, and furniture from the courts of the three Louis (XIV, XV, and XVI) to Richard Meier and Renzo Piano's temple of modernism.
Tokyo: The Imperial Capital
Price Tower Arts Center
March 16–May 13
Woodblock prints by Koizumi Kishio preserve the frenzy of rebuilding efforts in Tokyo in the aftermath of a 1923 earthquake, which Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel famously survived. Kishio's work, amassed in a traveling show from the Wolfsonian in Miami Beach, encompasses a then-modern airport as well as ancient temples.
Louis H. Sullivan: A System of Architectural Ornament, Part II
Chicago Art Institute
March 4–June 8
Joseph Rosa, the Art Institute's curator of architecture and design, offers a second installment of Sullivan's pencil drawings: 10 more examples of the master's hand and eye for detail. They are originals for a print series of 20 produced between 1922 and 1923 and commissioned by the Art Institute's Burnham Library. Like the related manuscript “The Inorganic and Organic,” Sullivan's final work, the drawings convey respect for the geometries of science and the curvilinear brilliance of nature.
Chicago Art Institute
Through April 29
Chicago's historic reputation as an incubator of fresh ideas is bolstered by this exhibition of digital and conceptual work that Rosa assembled into his first exhibition at the Art Institute. Studio output from young architects, industrial designers, graphic artists, and fashion designers asserts Chicago's pivotal role on the national stage.
Wexner Center for the Arts
Ohio State University
Through April 15
The Church of Saint Pierre in Firminy, France, was designed in the 1960s by Le Corbusier with José Oubrerie, then one of the master's young associates and now a professor of architecture at Ohio State University. Only now has Oubrerie been able to bring the project to fruition; the church opened last year. An exhibition and catalog convey the process and partnership in detailed sketches, photos, and drawings, as well as a new model.
Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Fabricated Houses Pacific Design Center February 28–May 13
If dreams of an Airstream trailer lurk in Steven Holl's shiny metal Turbulence House, a sunny day in Napa Valley must have inspired Michelle Kaufmann's Breezehouse. Six more forward-looking houses, some made from kits of parts, expose modularity at the edge.
Surreal Things: Surrealism and Design Victoria & Albert Museum March 29–July 22
Architecture, design, and the decorative arts, seen through the prism of the 20th century's most bizarre arts movement.
LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y.
Shin Banraisha: A Cultural Memory The Noguchi Museum Through April 1
Isamu Noguchi and Yoshio Taniguchi designed the Shin Banraisha (Welcoming Space) for Tokyo's Keio University as a symbol of postwar regeneration. The room was dismantled in 2003 to make way for a new building. A few remaining traces—artifacts, furniture, and architectural elements—have been assembled at the Noguchi Museum, recreating a semblance of the sculptor's first interior.
Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful: Designing an American Way of Living Midland Center for the Arts March 3–May 27
The legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright is preserved in a traveling exhibition of 100 original objects, including drawings, furniture, metal, textiles, and accessories from private and public collections as well as the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. A catalog with text by Virginia T. Boyd and Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer puts objects on the Wright pedestal.
NEW HAVEN, CONN.
Responding to Kahn: A Sculptural Conversation Yale University Art Gallery Through July 8
Students and interns have gathered postwar sculpture from the collection to draw connections between modern art and architecture—in this case, the renovated 1953 Louis Kahn masterpiece, which reopened in December following a $44 million rehab accomplished by Polshek Partnership Architects.
Open House: Architecture and Technology for Intelligent Living
Art Center College of Design, April 14–July 1
When 15 architects from nine countries are asked to rethink shelter for the next 25 years, apartments take on life as cells in a topiary-like tower commune, and an island in San Francisco Bay is reimagined as a wetland suitable for a jellyfish of a dwelling that filters and processes water, light, and pollutants. Curators culled from 100 entries to find a design from Tokyo, which proposes time-sharing unused space, a concept that could come in handy in suburbs where personal space often exceeds need. Amid the futuristic fantasies and 21st century materials, Escher Gunewardena Architecture of Los Angeles gets real, proposing a Livingkit to distribute knowledge from the First World cocoons of prosperity to those unfortunate millions who still lack sanitation, safe drinking water, and a decent shack to call home.
UN Studio: Evolution of Space Yale University School of Architecture February 12 to May 4
The Amsterdam-based firm is best known for the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam and the Prince Claus Bridge in Utrecht in the Netherlands. This exhibition will include UN Studio's recently completed Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
Bruno Mathsson: Architect and Designer Bard Graduate Center March 22–June 10
A leading figure in Swedish modernism, Mathsson (1907–1988) designed sensuous furniture and environmentally sensitive buildings long before energy efficiency became design's new mantra. His blend of ergonomics and aesthetics can be seen in the graceful woven chairs on the catalog cover. The exhibition will move to Seattle's Swedish Cultural Center this summer.
Design Life Now: National Design Triennial Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Through July 29
For a third time, the Cooper-Hewitt has assembled a team of curators to assess contemporary design culture at the front lines. Leading artists and practitioners point the way forward in disciplines as diverse as architecture, animation, medicine and robotics. Only the prosaic will be left behind.
Architecture of the Night: Luminous Buildings Netherlands Architecture Institute Through May 6
A century of artificial light has transformed modern life. This exhibition begins with the novel choreography of illumination staged for the debut of the Eiffel Tower at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris and progresses to the “light pollution” experienced in cities today.
Architectural Textiles: Tent Bands of Central Asia extile Museum March 30–August 19
Nomadic life would not have been possible without the ingenious tent designs of Central Asia, now more than a millennium and a half old. Highly decorative woven bands wrapped the struts, providing the tension needed to brace the roof dome. Forty examples are on display in the historic mansion museum.