FEBRUARY 17, 2002-MAY 12, 2002
VITAL FORMS: AMERICAN ART AND DESIGN IN THE ATOMIC AGE, 1940-1960
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.
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.