Collab Gallery, Perelman Building
The Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection of modern and contemporary design is one of the largest and most important in any American museum. It has evolved from its late-nineteenth-century roots as an industrial arts collection in service to the advancement of American industries into an assemblage that includes some of the finest examples of European, American, and Japanese design. Essential to the collection's development and continued vitality is Collab, The Group for Modern and Contemporary Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since its founding in 1970, Collab has been an enthusiastic partner in supporting the acquisition and promotion of modern and contemporary design at the Museum. The generosity of its members and the proceeds from its fund-raising activities have resulted in the Museum's acquisition of more than 250 objects— including inspired masterworks by designers such as Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Gehry, Ettore Sottsass, Jr., and Philippe Starck—with scores of others obtained from private individuals and corporations through Collab's influence. This exhibition highlights Collab's gifts from the last four decades, celebrating the organization's contributions to the Museum as well as presenting a chronological overview of modern and contemporary design in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
In honor of their 40th anniversary, Collab chose a gift to add to the collection with help from the online audience. Voters had four chairs from which to choose, and left comments in our discussion forum as to which one they liked the best. While each of the chairs received numerous votes, Marc Newson's Wood Chair was the clear popular winner. The simple, abstract, double-curve form of the chair--composed of slatted bent beech strips that extend from the backrest down, around, and back to form the seat and supports--appealed to bloggers for its linear beauty and use of natural materials. A group of middle school students thought they recognized the shape as Cancer--the fourth astrological sign in the Zodiac. This is the first work by the designer to enter the Museum's collections. The original Wood Chair was commissioned for a 1984 exhibition intended to encourage interaction between crafts practice and industry, and was made by Newson's own company, Pod, in Canadian rock maple and Australian coachwood. Since 1995, the chair has been serially produced in bent, flexible, beech wood by the Italian manufacturer, Cappellini. Thanks to everyone for their participation!
This exhibition was made possible by Lisa S. Roberts and David W. Seltzer.
Diane L. Minnite, Collections and Research Assistant, European Decorative Arts after 1700