Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jill Krementz covers Design and the Modern Kitchen

Entrance to the exhibition.
Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen
September 15th, 2010-March 14, 2011

From the humble fireplace to electrical ovens, appliances, and innovative counter tops, the kitchen has evolved over time to become much more than an area for cooking. It is an integral part of our life style.

This wonderful show, curated by Juliet Kinchin, with the help of curatorial assistant, Aidan O'Connor, comprises almost 300 works drawn from the museum's collection. It includes design objects, architectural plans, posters, prints, photographs, archival films, prints, paintings, and media works.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is an unusually complete example of the famous “Frankfurt Kitchen” designed in 1926-27 by Margarete Schütte-Lihotsky and recently acquired by MoMA.

You'll have a good time. Many of the appliances on view are available for purchase downstairs in MoMA's gift shop.
Glenn Lowry welcomes guests to press preview of Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen.

"Counter Space offers an in-depth look at the kitchen and its design throughout 20th Century, continuing the MoMA tradition of collecting what are considered everyday objects in order to appreciate the design and form that surrounds us."

"Throughout the exhibition prominence is given to the contribution of women, not only as consumers and users of the domestic kitchen, but also as reformers, architects, designers, and as artists who have critically addressed kitchen culture and myths."
Juliet Kinchin, Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, is introduced by Mr. Lowry.
Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator of Moma's Department of Architecture and Design and MoMA's Director, Glenn Lowry. Ms. Kinchin addresses the guests.
Lorenzo Marquez, VP of Marketing, Cosentino North America. Cosentino is the parent company of Silestone which is the lead sponsor of "Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen. Cosentino is the largest manufacturer of natural quartz surfaces in the world.
MoMA's Kim Mitchell, Chief Communications Officer, Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator of Department of Architecture and Design and Director, Glenn Lowry. Peter Galassi, Chief Curator of Photography at MoMA.
April Hunt, press officer of MoMA's P.S.1. Peter Reed, who is MoMA's Senior Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs. Art Critic Larry Qualls. "I like this show so much. I wish it had been twice its size."
Juliet Kinchin in front of a display of various appliances.
Wendy Goodman, Design Editor of New York Magazine.

"Seeing this show makes me long for the cozy little kitchen and life in the 50s when everyone knew what they were supposed to do. It reminds me of my childhood when the kitchen was the heart of the house ... it always smelled delicious and it was always alive."

On the wall behind her is
James Rosenquist
(American, born 1933)
Oil on canvas
Daniel Spoerri
Swiss, born Romania 1930

Kichka's Breakfast l, 1960

Wood Chair hung on wall with board across seat, coffeepot, tumbler, china, eggcups, eggshells, cigarette butts, spoons, tin cans, etc.

Spoerri, as self-proclaimed "paster of found situations," made this assemblage from his girlfriend Kichka's leftover breakfast after waiting for some visitors. "I pasted together the morning's breakfast, which was still there by chance," he has explained, including dishes, utensils, food, and cigarettes mounted on a small chair and wood panel. This is displayed on the wall so it "defies the laws of gravity" and the view to which we are accustomed." Spoerri's reliance on chance and his use of found food objects reflects a debt to the Dada movement that was shared by other artists of the Nouveau Réalisme group.
Claes Oldenburg
American, born Sweden 1929
Dropped Cup of Coffee: Preliminary study for Image of Buddha Preaching by Frank O'Hara, 1967
Pencil, crayon, and wash on paper
Mary E. Frey (American b. 1948)
(But How Can You Be Certain?)
Chromogenic color print
William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Dye transfer print, printed
William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
(freezer interior)
Dye transfer print
Lucas Samaras
American, b. Greece 1936
Adjustment (self-portrait in kitchen)
January 19, 1986
Collage of color instant prints
Chauncey Hare
American, born 1934
Kitchen, Kensington, California
Gelatin silver print
William Gedney (American, 1932-1989)
(Three Girls In Kitchen)
Summer, 1964
Gelatin silver print
James CASEBERE (American, born 1953)
Fork in Refrigerator
Gelatin silver print
Robert Watts
Egg Box
Unique example of Fluxus Edition announced in 1965
Vinyl-covered attaché case containing objects in various media
Robert Watts
Egg Box
c. 1963, unique example of Fluxus Edition announced 1964
Formed plastic box with metallic pigmentation
Cindy Sherman
American b. 1954
Untitled film still #84
Woman reaches over for Groceries on floor
Gelatin silver print
Mac Adams (American, born 1943)
The Toaster
George Maciunas (American, born Lithuania. 1931-1978)
c. 1967, prototype for Fluxus Edition announced 1967
Ballpoint pen and pressure sensitive tape on gelatin silver print
Riiko Sakkinen (Finnish, born 1976)
Secrets of Sexy Cooking
Watercolor, synthetic polymer paint, felt-tip pen, ballpoint pen, and pencil on paper
Mako Idemitsu
Japanese, b. 1940
HIDEO, It's Me Mama
Video (color, sound)
Stills from various movies which feature the kitchen--all from MoMA's Department of Film.
Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (Austrian, 1897-2000)
Frankfurt Kitchen from the Ginnheim-Höhenblick Housing Estate,
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Various materials
8’9” x 12’10” x 6’10” (266.7 x 391.2 x 208.3 cm)
Gift of Joan R. Brewster in memory of her Husband George W.W.
Brewster, by exchange and the Architecture & Design Purchase Fund
Peeking through the door is Curatorial Assistant Aidan O'Connor, who worked on this exhibition, and particularly on this installation, which is the centerpiece of the show. The Frankfurt kitchen marks the earliest design by a female architect in the Museum's collection of Architecture and Design.
Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (Austrian, 1897-2000)
Pouring bins from the Frankfurt Kitchen

Cheap, light, and well-balanced, these pouring storage bins were made on presses once used to produce ammunition boxes during the war. Schütte-Lihotzky worked with the manufacturers to improve their final shape, and incorporated them into all versions of her Frankfurt Kitchen. As a reaction to criticism regarding their low placement in her initial design, which made it too easy for children to access them, she positioned them higher up in later models of the kitchen. Some women also complained that the labels stamped on the front of each container were too restrictive. Despite these occasionally unfavorable responses, the bins were widely used in kitchens of the period.
Display of various kitchen utensils.
Posters relating to food during the war.
D'Arcy Drollinger, press associate at MoMA stands in front of Schlumbohm glassware.
This unified series of kitchenwares by chemist and inventor Schlumbohm epitomizes the kitchen-as-laboratory concept—a hallmark of the interwar New Kitchen—as it continued
beyond World War II. After immigrating to the United States from Germany in 1935, Schlumbohm created the famous Chemex coffeemaker, inspired in spirit by the Bauhaus school of design and in form by laboratory equipment such as the Erlenmeyer flask. A feature of James Bond’s breakfast in From Russia with Love, this was the most successful design of the more than 3,000 he patented.
This hinged, mobile kitchen on castors incorporates a stove, small refrigerator, pull-out cutting board, and a surprising abundance of storage space. It was shown in MoMA’s landmark 1972 exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, which celebrated innovative, flexible designs responsive to new ideas about casual and adaptable living. In considering this dynamic, compact unit, Time magazine noted its cultural significance: “In a country like Italy, where the kitchen is still a kind of sacred cave presided over by a mother-goddess, the design of a cooking module that can be rolled about and plugged in anywhere has profound implications. Not, perhaps, the immediate death of the nuclear family—but certainly a substantive critique of it.”
David Shrigley (British, born 1968)
To Make Meringue You Must Beat the Egg Whites Until They Look Like This
Artist's book
David Shrigley (British, born 1968)
One from an untitled portfolio of twenty-two woodcuts
Dr. Adnan Tarcici (Yemenite, born Lebanon 1918)
Solnar Tarcici Collapsible Solar Cooker

This solar cooker, which collapses completely into the portable box that also serves as its spine, was designed by professor and United Nations delegate Adnan Tarcini. Tarcini dedicated himself to solar energy: “One third of a worker’s salary,” he said in Lebanon in 1955, “is spent for fuel ... while from eight to nine months a year the sun shines all day.” Beginning in the 1950s, he achieved numerous patents for different solar cooker designs. Various attempts to harness the sun’s power for cooking had been made in the late nineteenth century, and in 1955 the Association for Applied Solar Energy (later the International Solar Energy Society) was formed. In 1956 a New York Times article featured Tarcini, who was pictured cooking hot dogs with one of his own devices.
Tom Wesselmann (American, 1931-2004)
Still Life #30
April 1963
Oil, enamel and synthetic polymer paint on composition board with collage of printed advertisements, plastic flowers, refrigerator door, plastic replicas of 7-Up bottles, glazed and framed color reproduction, and stamped metal
Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Brillo Box (Soap Pads)
Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on wood

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Heinz Tomato Ketchup Box [Prototype]
Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on wood

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Campbell's Tomato Juice Box
Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on wood
The Kitchen Debate, 1959

"I want to show you this kitchen," said Richard Nixon. "It's like those of houses in California..." So began the famous Cold War confrontation known as the Kitchen Debate, between Nixon, then vice president of the United States, and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in the General Electric kitchen at the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow. Nixon fixed on the familiar and symbolic setting of the kitchen to extol American abundance, innovation, freedom of choice and quality of life--and, by extension, capitalism itself. "Would it not be better," he challenged Khrushchev, "to compete in the relative merit of washing machines than in the strength of rockets?" "And this is one of the greatest nations?" countered Khrushchev. "I feel sorry for Americans, judging by your exhibition. Does your daily life really consist only of kitchens?" Such criticism proved ineffectual, however, against the seductive appeal of the American kitchenwares that were promoted in traveling exhibitions in the 1950s with the support of the State Department, corporations such as General Electric, and MoMA.
Magazines displayed under plexiglas.
Joseph Steinmetz (American, 1905-1985)
Tupperware Party, Sarasota, Florida
Gelatin silver print
Ralph Bartholomew Jr. (American, 1907-1985)
Advertisement for Eastman Kodak
(Teen-agers at Refrigerator)
Gelatin silver print
This kitchen clock with timer embodies longstanding hallmarks of the modern kitchen: timekeeping and efficiency. Its distilled functionalism is characteristic of Bill, the architect-designer best known as the cofounder of the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany, considered the most influential school of design after the Bauhaus (which Bill attended). This clock was one of the earliest of Bill’s designs to be produced and is considered a classic example of postwar “good design” in everyday objects. Bill later summarized his pragmatic design philosophy: “Functional design considers the visual aspect, that is, the beauty, of an object as a component of its function, but not one that overwhelms its other primary functions.” In 1911 the Ironrite Ironer Company began manufacturing electric ironing machines and marketing them to American housewives as the modern antidote to the drudgery of hand-ironing. In the late 1930s it launched the Health Chair, which facilitated “a scientifically correct ironing posture,” to complement its machines. World War II delayed mass production of the chair but stimulated the development of a newly scientific and systematic analysis of the interface between the human body and the designed environment. When production resumed, the benefits of the Health Chair were advocated by Ironrite instructors, who provided free demonstrations at “ironing schools” as well as in private home lessons.
Abram Games (British, 1914-1996)
Grow Your Own Food
Jan Lewitt (British, born Poland. 1907-1991)
George Him (British, born Poland, 1900-1982)
The Vegetabull
Russell Lee (American, 1903-1986)
Kitchen of Tenant Purchase Client, Hidalgo County, Texas
Gelatin silver print
Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958)
Eggs and Slicer
Gelatin silver print
Ralph Steiner (American, 1899-1986)
Ham and Eggs. Advertisement for The Delineator
Gelatin silver print
In Japan, plastic food designed and manufactured for restaurant display, or shokuhin sanpuru, is a major national industry. Models of Japanese and Western foods are molded and painted in exquisite detail to look as good as—if not better than—their edible counterparts. Displayed in a restaurant’s front window, these durable replicas allow the customer to identify food names and prices and facilitate interlingual communication. The Japanese practice of creating replica food (in wax before modern plas-tics) dates back to around 1920 and was reportedly inspired by the lifelike anatomical teaching models then being imported from the United States by new medical schools. The industry boomed after 1960, when restaurants began offering more varied menus. The realistic models are also commonly used as stand-ins for commercials, and are even sold to tourists as souvenirs.
Kenji Ekuan (Japanese, born 1929)
GK Design Group (Japanese, founded 1953)
Kikkoman Soy Sauce Dispenser
Glass and polystyrene plastic
5 1/4 x 2 1/2" (13.3 x 6.4 cm)
Jorre van Ast (Dutch, born 1980)
Jar Tops
Polypropylene (coffee milk lid): oil & vinegar lid, cacao dredger, sugar dredge, jug).
Mark Sanders
British, born 1956
No-Spill hopping Board, 1968
Polypropylene plastic

Alejandro Ruiz (Argentine, born 1958)
Cheese Grater
Plastic and metal
Arthur A. Aykanian (American, born 1923)
Spoon Straw
Polypropylene plastic

After training as a mechanical engineer at MIT, Aykanian worked as an industrial designer, craftsman, and inventor, ultimately realizing more than forty patents. This disposable spoon-straw, most widely associated with 7-Eleven’s trademark Slurpees, offers the utility of two utensils in one. Aykanian also designed a special tool for the cryosurgical treatment of skin cancer.
Philip-Lorca diCorcia (American, born 1953)
(holding knife)
The following items are available in MoMA's gift shop ...
Schlumbohm's famous Chemex coffeemaker.
Modern Women: Women Artists at the Museum of Modern Art. Hardcover, $70.

This book features illustrated essays by nearly 50 writers, including both MoMA curators and outside scholars. The anthology presents a variety of artists whose works span the spectrum of mediums and genres in the Museum's collection. It includes an excellent chapter about Margarete Schütte-Lihotsky.
You'll have to forgive me but I can't write a story about the kitchen without adding one of my own favorite photographs. This is my nephew Jason making doggie biscuits for his dog, Little Clown.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz; all rights reserved.