Mid-Century Modernism and the American Body: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Power in Design

Mid-Century Modernism and the American Body: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Power in Design

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Author: Wilson, Kristina

Brand: Princeton University Press

Binding: Hardcover

Number Of Pages: 264

Release Date: 13-04-2021

Details: Product Description The first investigation of how race and gender shaped the presentation and marketing of Modernist decor in postwar AmericaIn the world of interior design, mid-century Modernism has left an indelible mark still seen and felt today in countless open-concept floor plans and spare, geometric furnishings. Yet despite our continued fascination, we rarely consider how this iconic design sensibility was marketed to the diverse audiences of its era. Examining advice manuals, advertisements in Life and Ebony, furniture, art, and more, Mid-Century Modernism and the American Body offers a powerful new look at how codes of race, gender, and identity influenced―and were influenced by―Modern design and shaped its presentation to consumers.Taking us to the booming suburban landscape of postwar America, Kristina Wilson demonstrates that the ideals defined by popular Modernist furnishings were far from neutral or race-blind. Advertisers offered this aesthetic to White audiences as a solution for keeping dirt and outsiders at bay, an approach that reinforced middle-class White privilege. By contrast, media arenas such as Ebony magazine presented African American readers with an image of Modernism as a style of comfort, security, and social confidence. Wilson shows how etiquette and home decorating manuals served to control women by associating them with the domestic sphere, and she considers how furniture by George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, as well as smaller-scale decorative accessories, empowered some users, even while constraining others.A striking counter-narrative to conventional histories of design, Mid-Century Modernism and the American Body unveils fresh perspectives on one of the most distinctive movements in American visual culture. Review "[An] insightful new book . . . [ Mid-Century Modernism and the America Body] points out how many midcentury furnishings and magazine advertisements used demeaning images of women and people of color. The book highlights undeservedly obscure Black designers as well." ---Eve M. Kahn, New York Times "Midcentury modernism isn’t merely a style characterized by clean lines, open floor plans, graphic use of color, and overt minimalism. Overtones of the movement are both radical and racial, argues author Kristina Wilson, making heretofore largely unexplored connections between race, gender, and modernist decor. Wilson [is] uniquely qualified to chart the journey." ---Katherine Burns Olson, ArchitecturalDigest.com Review "Wilson’s brilliant analysis provides an urgent corrective to conventional accounts of Modern design. Through close studies of rich contextual material, including design drawings and advertising imagery, she takes us from commercial showrooms to intimate domestic spaces, unpicking the racialized and gendered strategies that sought to define and control consumers throughout the postwar period. This timely work acts as a clarion call to encourage further explorations of parallel design histories that have remained for far too long in the shadows."―Abraham Thomas, Daniel Brodsky Curator of Modern Architecture, Design, and Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art "For generations, the history of Modern design has been treated as if it had nothing to do with race. No longer: Wilson’s deeply researched and beautifully written book shows us how Modernism was deployed to reinforce exclusionary conceptions of Whiteness, while also attending to the experiences of Black designers and consumers. Timely and necessary, this work makes an essential contribution to our understanding of design history and postwar America." ―Glenn Adamson, author of Fewer, Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects "Brilliantly examining the role of Modernism in the creation of American values after the Second World War, Wilson brings to light the parallel histories that emerged in a segregated society obsessed with forging racial and gender difference through architecture and

Package Dimensions: 10.0 x 7.3 x 1.1 inches

Languages: English