An exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (Dec. 19 – March 27) purports to display the influences on modern design by Pop Art. With objects from the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, “…Charles Eames, George Nelson, Ettore Sottsass, Achille Castiglioni, and Robert Venturi were just as enamored of the commercial buzz of Main Street as their fine art peers and equally embraced the banality of everyday objects, the vivid colors of advertising, and standardized fabrication at the heart of mass consumer products in the creation of their work.”
Known for this:
Verner Panton is included in the exhibition with his Cone Chair:
These are some of the objects offered in the exhibition as examples of designs influenced by Pop Art. However, the notion that Pop Art had a strong effect on modern design strikes as a rather weak argument. The experimentation with modern architecture and domestic objects occurred long before the appearance of Pop Art. The modernists were inspired long before to produce designs using the latest materials and blends of materials in new and revolutionary ways:
The above are just a couple of examples of modernist designs that existed before Pop Art’s appearance. Most likely Pop Art and the modern design of the 1950s and 60s were a concurrent trend influencing each other rather than the exhibition’s thesis that Pop Art was in the driver’s seat.
If you are lucky enough to live in Chicago or are traveling there, you might want to look in on these apparently delightful two exhibitions.
(The featured image: Superstudio, Passiflora, lamp, 1968. Collection Vitra Design Museum.)