FEBRUARY 17, 2002-MAY 12, 2002
VITAL FORMS: AMERICAN ART AND DESIGN IN THE ATOMIC AGE, 1940-1960
Exhibition
GALLERIES 1, 2, 3



   

What do a Predicta television set, a 1954 Corvette, the Slinky, Tupperware, K rations, Eva Zeisel ceramics, a Jackson Pollock painting, and a Charles James evening gown have in common? All were created using "vital forms," or shapes inspired by nature, a new direction in art and design that flourished during and after World War II. These, along with nearly 250 other works, will be presented in Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the exhibition explores ways that the use of biomorphic shapes crossed disciplines and provided a point of intersection for fine art and popular culture. On view are paintings, sculptures, photographs, ceramics, and examples of fashion, architecture, and graphic and industrial design that embraced this aesthetic.

Pedestal Armchair with Cushion
Eero Saarinen
PEDESTAL ARMCHAIR
WITH CUSHION

designed 1956,
made circa 1970

Innovative artists and designers in the 1940s and '50s used vital forms to evoke living entities, from amoebas and plant life to the human figure. They sought to replace the hard-edged, machinelike imagery of the '20s and '30s, creating paintings with curvilinear forms, buildings with fluid contours that defied the rigidity of the International Style, and even bathing suits that unabashedly celebrated the shape of the female figure. From Lee Krasner's canvases of undulating flora to kidney-shaped swimming pools and the soaring wings of the TWA Terminal at New York's Idlewild (now JFK) Airport, these forms challenged the orthodox geometries of the preceding era.

Wallpaper, Sidewall
Nancy Warren
WALLPAPER, SIDEWALL
Chicago, circa 1953

Vital Forms explores the cultural moods of these two decades. The long ordeal of World War II, including the Holocaust and the advent of the atomic bomb, was followed in the United States by an era defined by anti-Communism, McCarthyism, and the Korean War. Yet the 1950s also became a time of great prosperity. This exhibition examines design and the visual arts as reflections of postwar ambivalence between anxiety and optimism during these decades, sharing ways that innovations in material and the increase in consumer demand inspired the rapid growth of vital forms from purely functional designs into an interdisciplinary style.





IN THE WALKER ART CENTER SHOPS
Pedestal Armchair with Cushion  
VITAL FORMS: AMERICAN ART AND DESIGN IN THE ATOMIC AGE, 1940-1960
This 256-page exhibition catalogue shows how artists, architects, and designers responded to the atomic age with organic imagery, from the TWA terminal to paintings by Willem de Kooning and others. Hardcover: $49.50 ($44.55 Walker members); softcover: $24.95 ($22.46).

Also available in the Shops is a wide assortment of merchandise that reflects the biomorphic shapes and designs of the 1940s to 1960s, ranging from George Nelson Ball clocks to the ever-popular Slinky toys.


RELATED EVENTS

FREE TOURS

SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2 PM

SATURDAY, MAY 11, 2 PM
SUNDAY, MAY 12

Join the Walker Art Center's knowledgeable tour guides for a lively, engaging, and informative tour of the exhibition.


APRIL EVENTS

FREE TOURS

SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2 PM
SUNDAY, APRIL 28
, 2 PM
Join the Walker Art Center's knowledgeable tour guides for a lively, engaging, and informative tour of the exhibition.


MARCH EVENTS

COMPLEAT SCHOLAR
BODY AND MATTER: BIOMORPHISM IN POST-WWII AMERICAN ART AND DESIGN

WEDNESDAYS, MARCH 6, 13, AND 20, 6:30-8 PM
This three-evening lecture series examines a time in American visual life when the work of artists and designers mimicked the shapes of nature. Call 612.375.7622 to register.


GALLERY TALK
THE POPULAR MODERN ART OF VITAL FORMS

THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 6:30 PM
Cultural critic and University of Minnesota art history professor Karal Ann Marling discusses a period in American history when shopping malls and living rooms were perhaps as likely to exhibit works of modern art as museums.


CONTRIBUTING MEMBERS' LUNCHEON
MONDAY, MARCH 11, 12 NOON $30 CONTRIBUTING-LEVEL MEMBERS
This luncheon for Contributing members and friends includes a curator-led exhibition tour. For information on becoming a Contributing member, call Sara Järvinen at 612.375.7641.


FREE TOURS
SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 2 PM
SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 2 PM
SATURDAY, MARCH 30
, 2 PM

Join the Walker Art Center's knowledgeable tour guides for a lively, engaging, and informative tour of the exhibition.



FEBRUARY EVENTS


FREE TOURS
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2002, 2 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2002, 2 PM
Join the Walker Art Center's knowledgeable tour guides for a lively, engaging, and informative tour of the exhibition.


WALKER AFTER HOURS/PREVIEW PARTY
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 9 PM-12 MIDNIGHT
$14 ($7 WALKER MEMBERS)
From Calder to Corvette, this is one preview party you won't want to miss! Join us for the Hula Hoop Experience, Slinky races, a Tupperware party, live jazz by the Charmin Michelle Trio, and more. Enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres, cash bars, and the Martini of the Month: the Swizzle.


DIRECTOR'S CIRCLE RECEPTION AND DINNER
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 6-9 PM
$60 DIRECTOR'S CIRCLE MEMBERS

Director's Circle members and friends are invited to this special preview and dinner with Walker Director Kathy Halbreich and the curators. For reservations or information about becoming a Director's Circle member, call 612.375.7641.


OPENING-DAY PANEL: FROM FUTURAMA TO MOTORAMA
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2 PM
$8 ($4 WALKER MEMBERS AND STUDENTS)

Professor Paul Boyer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison presents a historical overview of postwar America, and exhibition curator Brooke Kamin Rapaport and consulting curator (and former Walker Design Curator) Mildred Friedman discuss the material culture of the period, from Abstract Expressionism to "Potato Chip" chairs.


BETTER LOOKING: WHEN FORM BECOMES STYLE
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 6:30 PM
FREE

Join Walker Associate Curator Siri Engberg for a gallery talk on ways that biomorphic forms became the signature style of artists and designers at mid-century.

COMPLEAT SCHOLAR

BODY AND MATTER: BIOMORPHISM IN POST-WWII AMERICAN ART AND DESIGN
WEDNESDAYS, MARCH 6, 13, AND 20, 6:30-8 PM
$50 ($45 WALKER MEMBERS AND SENIORS)

This three-evening lecture series examines a time in American visual life when the works of artists and designers alike mimicked the shapes of nature. Lecturers include Walker Curator Siri Engberg, Walker Design Director Andrew Blauvelt, and University of Minnesota professor-architect Garth Rockcastle.









VITAL FORMS: AMERICAN ART AND DESIGN IN THE ATOMIC AGE, 1940-1960  WAS ORGANIZED BY THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM OF ART. THE EXHIBITION WAS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY GENEROUS GRANTS FROM THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES AND THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS. THE MINNEAPOLIS PRESENTATION OF THIS EXHIBITION IS MADE POSSIBLE BY GENEROUS SUPPORT FROM TARGET STORES. ADDITIONAL SUPPORT IS PROVIDED BY MARTHA AND BRUCE ATWATER, CAROL AND JUDSON BEMIS, JR., JAMES AND MEGAN DAYTON, AND JOANNE AND PHILIP VON BLON. PROMOTIONAL ASSISTANCE IS PROVIDED BY MPLS.ST.PAUL MAGAZINE.