High Museum to Host Exhibition Examining 20 Years of Innovations in European Design from Philippe Starck to Jurgen Bey

The High Museum of Art will host “European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century,” the first comprehensive assessment of Western European design from 1985 to 2005. The exhibition traces the evolution of design with nearly 200 works by some of the most influential artists of this era, encompassing furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork and a broad range of product design created by 117 designers from 14 Western European countries. Additional works from this period will be incorporated from the High’s growing collection of contemporary design. “European Design Since 1985,” organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) and the Denver Art Museum, in conjunction with Kingston University, London, will be on view at the High from June 5 through August 29, 2010.

“This exhibition includes some of the most iconic designs of the time, instantly recognizable but rarely seen in person outside of major American and European cities,” stated Ronald T. Labaco, the High’s curator of decorative arts and design. “The High’s permanent collection includes some of the finest holdings of 19th- and early 20th-century American decorative arts in the country, and this exhibition gives us the opportunity to showcase the next chapter of design history.”

“European Design Since 1985” examines the development of the larger aesthetic movements of decorative and industrial design that transcended national borders and defined new relationships between art, design, and craft during this period. The exhibition also focuses on the two generations of designers that shaped these movements. The first generation, born after World War II, includes Ron Arad, Philippe Starck and Marc Newson. Born after 1960, the second generation has only recently begun to attract international attention and includes Jurgen Bey, Maarten Baas and Marcel Wanders.

The exhibition is structured around two larger themes: “design as art” and “design as industry,” or what are commonly known as postmodernism and modernism, respectively. Within these larger movements, there was a powerful dynamic of action and reaction that is reflected in the installation of the exhibition, which is divided into three sections: the initial postmodernist surge, the modernist reaction, and finally a postmodernist revival.

The designers of the postmodernist tradition primarily focused on producing objects that were more conceptual in nature and made in limited or studio production. The exhibition opens with two late manifestations of postmodernism that continued the influence of such design groups as Memphis and Studio Alchymia.

High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005, the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit www.high.org

Image: Mathias Bengtsson-Bengtsson Design Ltd., 03 Slice, 1999. Lounge Chair, Aluminum, 29-1/2 x 35-1/8 x 26-3/4 inches. Collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Frank Curtis Springer & Irving Moxley Springer Purchase Fund. Photo: Martin Scott-Jupp.