Sports Now
UFC 190: Ronda Rousey KOs Bethe Correia in the first round
Home & Garden
Home & Garden

West Coast meets Eastern Bloc in 'Competing Utopias' exhibition

If Neutra met Khrushchev: 'Competing Utopias' a mash-up of West-East design styles

When California Midcentury Modernism confronts its Eastern Bloc Cold War counterpart, are they really so very different?

"Competing Utopias: An Experimental Installation of Cold War Modern Design From East and West in One Context," which opens Saturday at the Richard Neutra VDL Studio and Residences in Silver Lake, poses this intriguing question.

Taking as its setting Austrian-born architect Neutra's iconic 1965 VDL II house and courtyards, purposely stripped down, and, as furnishings, 350 major pieces from Culver City's Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War's collection of artifacts, the answer is less predictable than imagined.

There is a distinct hand-in-glove quality to this mash-up installation, leading to its assertion that the show "is meant to ask more questions than it could possibly answer."

Jointly organized by Cal Poly Pomona, curator-owner of the splendid Neutra properties, and the Wende Museum, the exhibition is premised on the idea that the two rival postwar spheres of influence used cultural art forms in addition to politics to present greater, competing visions of the modern world.

Neutra's clean-lined and light-filled structures are the perfect foil for the streamlined, ultra-functional East Bloc offerings. The surprise here is their candy-colored whimsy: a canary yellow suitcase opens to an egg-shaped seat, a pair of kangaroo-footed chairs in blue and mustard yellow seem poised to leap, a telephone screams in bright orange and black.

And the Neutra spaces, deceptively simple yet deeply complex, offer their own surprises in their employment of reflective surfaces and shadowing. The vintage Stasi spying devices on display feel right at home here too.

Where: Neutra VDL Studio and Residences, 2300 Silver Lake Blvd., L.A.

When: Opening event 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Exhibition runs through Sept. 13.

Hours: 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays


Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Small-space living: 13 interiors to inspire

    Small-space living: 13 interiors to inspire

    Small-space living requires creative thinking, whether you are living in an apartment, condo, bungalow or boat. Here we share several space-saving ideas and inspirations from some of our past Homes of the Times profiles. Have a small-space tip? Send a photo to

  • In Palm Springs, a renovation to meld midcentury, modern, light and art

    In Palm Springs, a renovation to meld midcentury, modern, light and art

    When it comes to the desert, summer temperatures of 110 degrees can be a deal breaker. It's just too hot, even for snowbirds. But for Robert Shiell, who recently renovated his 1959 weekend home in Palm Springs, the searing heat is incidental to the quiet beauty of the desert landscape and the classic...