DESIGN & HISTORY: PART 3

An online course presented by The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.
With Instructor, Dr. Jonathan Clancy, Director of Collections and Preservation.

8 NEW Sessions  |  $25/session | Location: Zoom Online Classroom

Saturdays at 1:00 PM EST | July 10 – August 28, 2021


Design & History: PART 3
COURSE OVERVIEW

As author L. P. Hartley cogently noted in his novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”  In this final part of the Design & History series we visit those foreign countries, diving deeply into the modern era, examining the pasts that continue to shape our world, and exploring the legacy of, and reaction to, the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Starting with Peter Behrens and the birth of industrial modernism, we move through the major movements and figures of the first half of the twentieth century–The Bauhaus, Le Corbusier, Art Deco, and Mid-Century Modernism–before ending at Black Mountain College and the avant-garde. 


Registration is required. Once registered and paid, you will receive an email prior to each session with a link to join.

Do you have a scheduling conflict for the live session? You can still enjoy the program. Register and we’ll send you the recording! All paid attendees will be emailed a private link to the session recording when it is available.

Missed us? You can also register retroactively. If you register for a session that has passed, you’ll recieve access to the recording when it is ready.

Haven’t tried a session yet? Each session is planned as a “stand-alone” lecture, so you can take them all or attend the topics that interest you most.


1Sat., Jul. 10Peter Behrens and the Birth of Modern Design
As we move into the 20th century, my argument for the first session is quite simple: Peter Behrens was a brilliant designer who should be more of a household name…. READ MORE
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2Sat., Jul. 17Cubism: The Rise of Geometric Modernism
In the first decades of the 20th century, certain unrelated strains of modernism sprang forth that embraced a fractured, geometric approach to composition best exemplified by the analytical Cubism of Braque or Picasso… READ MORE
REGISTER
3Sat., Jul. 24Mysticism, Modernism, and Often Misunderstood: The Bauhaus
Often thought of as a pinnacle of European modern design, this session explores the Bauhaus from its roots in Henry Van de Velde’s Weimar School for the Applied Arts to its growth under Walter Gropius to what essentially became an architectural laboratory under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe… READ MORE
REGISTER
4Sat., Jul. 31The International Style
Amongst the most recognizable styles of modern architecture and design, the International Style also established the canon of luminaries we continue to revere… READ MORE
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5Sat., Aug. 7Can We Make it Jazzier? Art Deco and the Return of Decoration
If the International Style was clean and elegant, it was also cerebral and markedly un-fun. Enter: Art Deco, and with that the realization that decoration, historicism, and visual play were satisfying, uplifting, symbolic, and desirable…. READ MORE
REGISTER
6Sat., Aug. 14Craft Workshops in an Era of Mass-Production
From George Nakashima to Wharton Esherick, from Gertrude and Otto Natzler to Leza and William McVey, the practice of craft and the notion of the individual studio continued to hold sway… READ MORE
REGISTER
7Sat., Aug. 21Design at Mid-Century: Softer Modernisms
Moderne, streamlined, biomorphic, mid-century, these terms denote a school of thinking that arose to fill the gap between the austerity of the International Style and the excessive decorative impulses of Art Deco… READ MORE
REGISTER
8Sat., Aug. 28The Black Mountain Legacy: Bauhaus and Beyond
With the final closing of the Bauhaus in Berlin in 1933 and the rise of Nazism in Germany, artists and designers–if they were able to–fled… READ MORE
REGISTER

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS


Week 1: Sat., July 10
Peter Behrens and the Birth of Modern Design

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As we move into the 20th century, my argument for the first session is quite simple: Peter Behrens was a brilliant designer who should be more of a household name. Competent in a number of different styles from Art Nouveau to Industrial design to Classicism and Expressionism, his work as a designer, architect, and teacher / mentor heralds the birth of modernism as a style. Without the pioneering work of Behrens, there is no International Style, no Dieter Rams of Braun, no Mies or Corbusier or Gropius as we know them, since they all worked as assistants in his office. From his AEG Turbine Hall (1909, Berlin) to industrial clock designs, to his Expressionist masterpiece the Technical Administration building for Hoescht, Behrens proved himself able to change with the demands of the times and the mandate he was given, and ranks amongst the most important designers of the twentieth century.

Image: Peter Behrens, AEG Turbine Factory, 1909. Berlin.


Week 2: Sat., July 17
Cubism: The Rise of Geometric Modernism

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In the first decades of the twentieth century, certain unrelated strains of modernism sprang forth that embraced a fractured, geometric approach to composition best exemplified by the analytical Cubism of Braque or Picasso. And yet, as the Wiener Werkstätte reminds us, these movements predated the very invention of Cubism and certainly its wider distribution. This session explores these trends, looking at varied movements from the Wiener Werkstätte to De Stijl, to Soviet Constructivism and Suprematism, and considers the impulses that were common to that approach, inklings of which were evident in Cezanne’s work by the 1890s.


Week 3: Sat., July 24
Mysticism, Modernism, and Often Misunderstood: The Bauhaus

REGISTER

Often thought of as a pinnacle of European modern design, this session explores the Bauhaus from its roots in Henry Van de Velde’s Weimar School for the Applied Arts to its growth under Walter Gropius to what essentially became an architectural laboratory under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe before it was closed in 1933 by mounting pressure from the Nazis. Often overlooked in the Bauhaus history is the persistent influence of Expressionism, mysticism, and the role that handicraft played in the development of the school’s aesthetics. Johannes Itten, a neo-Zoroatrianism, vegetarian, painter, and mystic developed the Basic course of study at the Bauhaus and forms an important counterpoint to the international style that continues to dominate our impression of the movement. Hand weaving, timber structures, pottery making, and embrace of exoticism were essential factors in the development of the Bauhaus.


Week 4: Sat., July 31
The International Style

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Amongst the most recognizable styles of modern architecture and design, the International Style also established the canon of luminaries we continue to revere: Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, and Alvar Aalto. Practitioners favored modern materials, balance (as opposed to symmetry), and emphasized the volume of space rather than the mass of the façade. Generally devoid of ornament, part of the appeal of the movement, and indeed its supremacy from about 1930 to the 1980s, was that it was reproduceable ad nauseum anywhere. The unfortunate legacy of the International Style is a staggering amount of non-descript glass and steel buildings all over the world that often distracts from the aesthetic achievements of the movement’s best work. In this session, we will recapture that history, look at what makes for great (and, by contrast, really poor) International Style design, and see the manner in which subtle manipulations of proportion and materials created these iconic structures. 


Week 5: Sat., August 7
Can We Make it Jazzier? Art Deco and the Return of Decoration

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If the International Style was clean and elegant, it was also cerebral and markedly un-fun. Enter: Art Deco, and with that the realization that decoration, historicism, and visual play were satisfying, uplifting, symbolic, and desirable. From Radio City Music Hall to the Chrysler Building to the SS Normandie, high-style Art Deco’s embrace of luxury materials, contrast, pattern, and decoration formed a welcome relief to the somber elegance of the International Style. This session looks at the return of decoration and the movement’s best designs and designers, including Emile-Jaques Ruhlman, Donald Deskey, Viktor Schreckengost, and Ruth Reeves.

Image: Donald Deskey, Cigarette Box, 1928. Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Week 6: Sat., August 14
Craft Workshops in an Era of Mass-Production

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From George Nakashima to Wharton Esherick, from Gertrude and Otto Natzler to Leza and William McVey, the practice of craft and the notion of the individual studio continued to hold sway even as the acceleration of mass production drove designers and producers farther apart. In this hour, we explore the persistence of the artist producer in the modern economy, highlighting works from the artists mentioned above, but looking too at artists like Harvey Littleton, a revolutionary who resisted modern production methods by taking an art that had been confined to larger practices–glass making–and creating a studio practice that rescued craft from industry.

Image: Wharton Esherick, Desk, 1970. Courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center.


Week 7: Sat., August 21
Design at Mid-Century: Softer Modernisms

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Moderne, streamlined, biomorphic, mid-century, these terms denote a school of thinking that arose to fill the gap between the austerity of the International Style and the excessive decorative impulses of Art Deco. Exemplified by figures such as Russell Wright, Eva Zeisel, Charles and Ray Eames, and Isamu Noguchi, these designers sought a middle path and chose to preserve the clean lines of modernism while softening its hardest edges. Their efforts and their collaboration with industry put “good design” within the reach of the masses and helped shape the material culture of that period and even into today.


Week 8: Sat., August 28
The Black Mountain Legacy: Bauhaus and Beyond

Peter Voulkos, untitled, 1957. Courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions.

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With the final closing of the Bauhaus in Berlin in 1933 and the rise of Nazism in Germany, artists and designers–if they were able to–fled. Black Mountain College, in western North Carolina, was the unexpected beneficiary of Germany’s deteriorating political climate as nearly a dozen artists associated with the Bauhaus (including Walter Gropius, Anni and Joseph Albers, and Lyonel Feininger) came to work at the school. Although short-lived–lasting just 24 years from 1933-57, Black Mountain’s impact on American and Art and Design is difficult to overstate: Peter Voulkos, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, Jacob Lawrence, and Robert Motherwell all spent time there. So too did Buckminster Fuller, Albert Einstein, and Ruth Asawa. This session explores this amazing moment, the overlap of art / design / dance / craft / engineering and the impact it continues to have on our world.


Dr. Jonathan Clancy is the Director of Collections and Preservation at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. An author, educator, and curator Clancy received his doctorate in art history in 2008 from the Graduate Center. Formerly Director of the MA in American Fine and Decorative Arts program at Sotheby’s, he left in 2017 to form an advisory group. As an independent consultant, he has worked with private clients and institutions on collection management, exhibition planning, label writing and research, and valuation.


Craftsman Farms, the former home of noted designer Gustav Stickley, is owned by the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills and is operated by The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, Inc., (“SMCF”) (formerly known as The Craftsman Farms Foundation, Inc.). SMCF is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of New Jersey. Restoration of the National Historic Landmark, Craftsman Farms, is made possible, in part, by a Save America’s Treasures Grant administered by the National Parks Service, Department of the Interior, and by support from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust, The New Jersey Historic Trust, and individual donors. SMCF received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State and a grant from the New Jersey Arts & Culture Recovery Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. Educational programs are funded, in part, by grants from the Arts & Crafts Research Fund.