LACMA presents California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way.” The exhibition—the first major study of modern California design—examines the state’s key role in shaping the material culture of the country at mid-century. California Design features more than 350 objects in wideranging media, including furniture, textiles, fashion, graphic and industrial design, ceramics, jewelry, metalwork, architectural drawings, and film, as well as two period re-creations—most notably the living room from the home of renowned designers Charles and Ray Eames. The exhibition is organized by Wendy Kaplan, Curator and Department Head, and Bobbye Tigerman, Assistant Curator, of LACMA’s Decorative Arts and Design Department.
“Given that California became a world center for design innovation after 1945, it’s surprising that this exhibition is the first comprehensive study of the subject. While figures such as the Eameses, Richard Neutra and Rudi Gernreich are well known, we present new context for their work,” stated Wendy Kaplan. Bobbye Tigerman elaborated, “At the same time, we also introduce audiences to previously unheralded designers who played an integral role in the development of California design.”
California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way” is one of five exhibitions LACMA is presenting in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time, an unprecedented collaboration initiated by the Getty, bringing together more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene (beginning October 2011).
“California is America, only more so,” the author Wallace Stegner famously declared in 1959. Throughout most of the twentieth century, the state symbolized the good life in America. After 1945 a burgeoning, newly prosperous population—intoxicated by the power to purchase after the deprivation years of the Great Depression and the wartime rationing of goods—turned the state into America’s most important center for progressive architecture and furnishings. This exhibition explores how the California of our collective imagination—a democratic utopia where a benign climate permitted life to be led informally and largely outdoors— was translated into a material culture that defined an era.