Crafting Modernism

Crafting Modernism:
Midcentury American Art and Design

February 26–May 20, 2012 in the Grand Gallery

work by Evert Sodergren, Claire Falkenstein, and Isamu Noguchi

The years following the Second World War saw an explosion of craft art in America. Men and women from all walks of life and corners of the globe rediscovered and reinvigorated such traditional media as ceramics, fiber, glass, metal and wood. In our own region, Rochester Institute of Technology and Alfred University became major creative centers.

This survey of the studio craft movement includes works by more than 170 artists and craftsmen, among them such masters as Harry Bertoia, Anni Albers, Isamu Noguchi, Wendell Castle, Albert Paley, Peter Voulkos, Harvey Littleton and Maria Martinez. Today, the work of these “midcentury modern” artists is highly sought by collectors. complete list of artists

The exhibition, which spans the years from 1945 to 1969, begins with the early postwar era, when the independent craftsman lifestyle became a compelling alternative to the anonymity of the corporate world. It then moves on to the turbulent late 1950s and 1960s, which witnessed the emergence of the crafted object as a work of art informed by Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Funk, social commentary and counterculture. interactive timeline of works in the exhibition

Wendell Castle Music RackThe importance of western New York in the history of the craft movement cannot be underestimated. Three institutions in particular are well represented in Crafting Modernism: RIT’s School for American Crafts (SAC), the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, and Syracuse University. At least 20 artists with work in the show taught or studied at one of these institutions. Pictured at left is Music Rack (1964) by Scottsville artist Wendell Castle. more about western NY connections

read the press release
see works in the exhibition

Crafting Modernism
is made possible through the generosity of the National Endowment for the Arts; the Henry Luce Foundation; and the Craft Research Fund of the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. It was organized by the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City.

In Rochester, it is sponsored by Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, with additional support from the Mabel Fenner Lyon Fund, the Gallery Council of the Memorial Art Gallery, Ron and Cathy Paprocki and Mann’s Jewelers. Support is also provided by the friends of Grant Holcomb in honor of his tenure as Director of the Memorial Art Gallery.

Crafting Modernism was organized by curator Jeannine Falino and associate curator Jennifer Scanlan of the Museum of Arts and Design, where the show opened in October 2011.

Exhibition party

Saturday, February 25, 8 to 11 pm: At our opening bash, put on your coolest threads and get ready for some radioactive fun, food and tunes! Tickets are $25 (free to MAG members at Supporter level and above*). get free member tickets

more about the party

Programs and events

• Sunday, February 26, 2 pm: exhibition curator Jeannine Falino with artist Wendell Castle learn more
• Thursday, April 19, 7 pm: Jean France on “Local Landmarks of Modernism” and Steven Plouffe on “Living in a Landmark” learn more

Especially for Educators
• Wednesday, February 29, 2 pm: “What is Design?” learn more

MAG YP Scavenger Hunt
• Thursday, March 8, 6–8 pm learn more

Ronald Hayes Pearson Trunk Show
• Thursday–Saturday, April 26–28 learn more

Guided Exhibition Tours
Dates and times below / included in Gallery admission

• Sunday, February 26, 1 pm and 3 pm
• Sundays, March 4–May 10, 1 pm
• Fridays, March 2–May 8, 2 pm

Pictured at top of page (from left):
Evert Sodergren, Sculptured Chair (1953). Walnut and leather. Collection of Margaret Minnick.
Claire Falkenstein, Pendant (1961). Glass, iron. The Dukoff Collection.
Isamu Noguchi, Akari 820 Lamp (1951–52). Mino washi paper, bamboo, metal and electric cord. Noguchi Museum.