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beautiful mathematics, 20th century architectural elevations

Future Perfect: Mid-Century Modern Design Drawings
January 9 - May 30, 2009

Mid 20th Century Modernism's most flamboyant designers. Industrial and architectural drawings from post-war to post-moon landing.


Utopian visions were nothing new to America's architects and designers after World War II.  However, triggered by an explosion of affordable real estate and hopeful consumerism, manufacturers of the post-war era followed an entirely different design approach.  This new philosophy of sensuous shapes envisioned furniture, lamps and radios as almost living beings that could run out to the buyers' car.

Henry P. Glass was perfectly suited to this new visual language.  Freed from his Nazi prison camp, he began his design career in America with drawings that practically walked off the paper and into production.

Television and tourism helped transform the new reality away from wartime into the future and that's where we wanted to live.  Bertrand Goldberg created theaters, hospitals and apartment buildings that could have come from colonies on the Moon.

In the era when a man's vehicle could resemble his rocket ship to get there,  Ron Martelet drew speedboats that could transform into their own transport trailers.  His Jet-Skis of the 60s looked to be straight out of "Goldfinger."

What began as atomic nightmares transformed into space age dreams in "Techni"-colors that were no longer army drab but instead, pink, aqua and hues never before classified.  Mid-Century Modernism was something completely different.

ArchiTech Gallery has assembled design drawings from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s that mark the beginning of the most accelerated period in American consumerism. "Future Perfect: Mid-Century Modern Design Drawings" opens Friday, January  9th and runs through Saturday, March 28th, 2009.

Henry P. Glass Image of 1958 Chair Lounger

Notes on the Exhibition:

New Year. New economy. New President (Ahhh!) These are the right ingredients for a new way of looking at design. The same conditions led to a Post-War design makeover of the nation in the 1940s (Well, Truman had been President for a few months already, but otherwise...).

One thing I had noticed when I began collecting things from that period onto the end of the 1960s, was the "biomorphic" nature of industrial design. While most of the architecture was inoffensively bland, chairs, lamps, radios and other consumer products were
definitely not. And their original design drawings were among the best and most sensual works on paper. Like Modernism itself, the drawings became as much about the "feeling" of an object as they were about the building of it.

It was also time to feature the great Henry Glass, the most emotional of all the industrial designers. I had known the Viennese ex-patriot toward the last years of his life and bought as much of his work as I could afford. His family also became my friends and I'm trying to
place his huge archive of about 20,000 drawings in a museum for them.

The one other concept that binds Henry's ideas with those of the other designers in this show is the optimism for the future they show. Hence, the name "Future Perfect." English grammarians will also notice the specific verb tense mirrors that same optimistic certainty. Obscure or not, double entendres make the best show titles.

After two "unreviewable" shows, Architectural toys and the Carbide blueprints, it was time to confront Chicago's leading art critic. And Alan Artner agreed, in his Tribune review, with the organic nature of post war design that was my main premise and also saw that Henry Glass was like a high wire walker, "...Glass is often out there by himself, taking inspiration from many sources. Fascinating."

Despite the winter chill and economic doldrums, these drawings make my walk-ins smile. That's all I can ask these days.

Click to link:
January 2009 - Alan Artner's Chicago Tribune Review of "Future Perfect: Mid-Century Modern Design Drawings"

June 2009 - Click Here to Read the following Chicago Tribune Review

click on image
to enlarge

Henry P. Glass Image of proposed interior architecture drawings of Kling Studios in Chicago
Henry P. Glass
Wacker Plaza Lobby - View From Entrance
Pencil on tracing paper, 1955
16 x 21 inches

Henry P. Glass Image of proposed interior architecture drawings of Kling Studios in Chicago
Henry P. Glass
Kling Studios Lobby
Pencil on tracing paper, 1946
18 x 23 inches

Henry P. Glass Image of 1958 Chair Lounger
Henry P. Glass
Kling Studios Director's Office
Pencil on tracing paper, 1946
18 x 23 inches

Henry P. Glass Image of interior architecture drawing
Henry P. Glass
DH1 Laminated Plywood Chair
Prismacolor on paper collage, 1966
10 1/4 x 12 inches

Henry P. Glass Image of interior architecture drawing
Henry P. Glass
Design for Hairpin Chair
Pastel and ink on toned paper, Circa 1940s
9 1/2 x 15 inches

Henry P. Glass Image of interior architecture drawing
Henry P. Glass
Eastern Knitters Sales Room
Watercolor and collage on toned paper with shaped mat, 1946
20 1/2 x 30 inches

Henry P. Glass Image of desk drawing
Henry P. Glass
Desk Lamp
Graphite on tracing paper
Circa 1949
16 x 13 inches

Henry P. Glass Image of cliff house
Henry P. Glass
Night Table Lamp
Graphite on tracing paper
Circa 1949
16 x 13 inches

Goldberg San Diego Theater
Bertrand Goldberg, Architect; Henry Gould, Delineator
San Diego Theater, LaJolla
Marker on artist's board, 1969
12 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches

Boat Trailer design Martelet
R.G. Martelet
Detail of Design B (Boat/Trailer Combination)
Prismacolor and chalk on toned paper, 1961
16 x 30 inches

Vincent Raney Theatre for Los Banos
Vincent Raney
Detail of Theatre for Los Banos
Pencil on drafting linen, 1947
15 x 16 inches

Link to Henry P. Glass's Obituary from the Chicago Tribune
Link to Henry Glass's Artist Biography and more images

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654
312-475-1290
ArchiTechGallery@earthlink.net


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