The Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA recently announced its slate of Spring 2024 programming, highlighted by an exhibition that retraces the development of modernism in Latin America from the pre-war outset to its critical demise as the movement in the early 1980s.
Beginning in March of next year, ‘Crafting Modernity: Design in Latin America, 1940–1980’ will look closely at the growth of modernism through an industrial and entrepreneurial lens using a selection of examples from well-known and revered architects and designers such as Joaquim Tenreiro, Lina Bo Bardi, and Oscar Niemeyer.
The exhibition was organized by guest curator Ana Elena Mallet of the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM), along with the department’s curatorial assistant, Amanda Forment. In it, over 150 objects taken from collections on three continents are used to form a comprehensive overview of the various aspects (gender equality, domestic interiority, professionalization, and market forces) that all contributed to shaping the broader avant-garde.
"The role that women and immigrants played in shaping professional design and developing a national design vocabulary in Latin America will be emphasized, including the work of designers such as Clara Porset in Mexico, Cornelis Zitman in Venezuela, and Susi Aczel in Argentina," shares MoMA.
MoMA’s own considerable engagement with design in that period is another crucial inclusion in the exhibition. Eliot Noyes’ groundbreaking 1941 ‘Organic Design in Home Furnishings’ competition-based exhibition, which challenged designers from 21 countries to “engage their local materials and construction methods,” is re-introduced to give it context along with the talents (Clara Porset, Michael van Beuren, and others) that emerged from it.
“With this exhibition, we hope to introduce audiences to the ways in which the field of design in Latin America, especially design for the domestic sphere, reflects the multivalent and complex visions of modernity taking place in the region,” Ana Elena Mallet says in a preview. “Through the study of objects, material culture, and other forms of expression, a more nuanced vision of Latin America can emerge.”
This could also be a chance to "cement the role of design in the broader social and political developments of the era," say the curators. The influence of different cultural and economic production conditions in each country will also become clearer, along with the role of craft traditions in their endemic design communities. “Throughout the various crises Latin America faced, craft remained as a resilient and persistent practice in the region, and became in itself a form of identity.
The exhibition opens to the public on March 8th, 2024 and will extend through September 22nd in the museum’s Architecture and Design galleries.
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