LACMA show on California design, ‘Living in a Modern Way’

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“California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way,” which opens Oct. 1 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, aims to dispel the myth that significant contributions by Californians during this period came mainly in fine art and architecture.

By extending the scope of the new exhibition to furniture, graphic design, fashion, surfboards, even the Studebaker Avanti designed by the great Raymond Loewy, ‘California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way’ argues that what flourished in the state, particularly after World War II, was in fact a much broader movement. Nurtured by the rapid technological changes brought on by wartime manufacturing and by the thousands who came to work in California’s defense plants, a new creative class thrived here. Frequent cross-pollination between disciplines created what curators call California’s new “middle-class Utopias.”

The lamp pictured at right, Model 831, is a Greta Magnusson Grossman design dating to 1949. Appreciation for Grossman’s place in the midcentury design movement has been rising, and L.A. Times readers might recall a 2009 profile and photo gallery of a 1948 house in Beverly Hills that Grossman built.

Among the hundreds of other elements in the LACMA exhibit, below from left: a mid-1930s Airline chair by Kem Weber, a 1953 Arts and Architecture magazine cover by John Follis and James Reed, and a Dan Johnson desk from 1947.


Article: ‘Califoria Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way’

Photos: Preview of the LACMA exhibition


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Landmark Houses: The Times series

Pacific Standard Time: The Times guide

-- David Hay

Credit, top: Museum Associates / Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Credit, bottom, from left: Museum Associates / Los Angeles County Museum of Art, courtesy of David Travers, Dan Johnson