Tuesday 24 June 2014

Around 1914: Design in a New Age Decorative Arts Symposium

WMSC member Karen Stanley attended this symposium in support of the ROM's new exhibit, which you can read more about here. And here's what Karen had to say!

The Royal Ontario Museum hosted a symposium on April 10-11, 2014. The ROM first opened in 1914 during a time of change that was accelerated by industrialization and new modes of manufacture. The opening guest speaker was supposed to have been Margaret Macmillan but was unavailable. She was replaced by Rosalind Pepall, former Senior Curator of Decorative Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Her keynote remarks were regarding Soaring Ambition and Design Before the War. She was a very good speaker and talked about the period as a time of bold experimentation and questioning regarding tradition that rejected conventional ornamentation and historical precedents. It laid the foundation of the movement to “modern” and a new concept called “industrial design”. The time was moving from Arts and Crafts to Art and Industry.

The following day a series of international scholars spoke about designers and crafts people who were responding to the ideological and social challenges of the period through art, architecture and design.

On April 11 Dr. Paul Stirton, Professor Bard Graduate Centre, Decorative Arts, Design History Material Culture, New York opened the morning session and spoke about the Arts and Crafts in the UK before the first World War. He spoke about crafts people such as Charles Robert Ashbee and Liberty’s of London.

Dr. Pamela Robertson, Senior Curator and Professor of Mackitosh Studies The Hunterian, University of Glasgow followed. She spoke of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Architecture. At the time Mackintosh’s designs were considered controversial and innovative.

Dr. Martin Eidelberg, Professor of Art History at Rutgers University gave a lecture on The Rise and Fall of Tiffany Studios.

Etienne Tornier, Institut National de l’Histoire de l”Art, Paris gave a presentation of Art Nouveau, Siegfried Bing and America.

Dr. Christian Witt-Dorring, Curator MAK Vienna and the Neue Galerie, New York gave an interactive presentation on Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffmann-Two ways to Modernism in Vienna 1900.

The symposium ended with Peter Behrens, Painter, Architect, Industrial Designer, given by Dr. Stanford Anderson, Professor of History and Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

During the day participants were encouraged to view the ROM’s exhibition that accompanied the symposium. The ROM had pieces on display of Charles Robert Ashbee, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Hosef Hoffman, Hacob and Josef Kohn, and Peter Behrens, to name a few.

Image from the ROM's website: Chair designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Scottish, 1868-1928) Probably made by Francis Smith and Son Oak, stained dark, horsehair fabric cover Glasgow, Scotland Designed c. 1898-1900, made c. 1898-1900.

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