|Jens S. Jensen, Boy on the Wall, Hammarkullen, Gothenburg, 1973, Mural made from silver gelatin print, Gift of the artist to MoMA.|
|Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000
July 29-November 5, 2012
It's been said that when you die your entire life flashes before your eyes. Those longing for a look back but under less dire circumstances should consider visiting the sixth floor of MoMA.
Spanning seven galleries on the museum's sixth floor, the exhibit of over 500 items includes toys and games, animated films, clothing, safety equipment, school products, furniture, books, and photographs. Children have been central to the concerns of many of the world's best architects, designers, educators, artists and writers and, it should be noted, MoMA has always been committed to highlighting these creative social activists.
A related publication, Century of the Child, Growing by Design, 1900-2000, has been published in hardcover for $60 and is also available as an Apple iBook, one of the Museum's first, through iTunes for $29.99.
A series of films, Unaccompanied Minors; View of Youth in Films From the Collection, has been organized by Associate Curator Anna Morra (Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, through August 14).
|Peter Opsvik (Norwegian, born 1939)
"Maxi" set including Trip Tripp chair
1972; Lacquered Beech Wood
This oversized table and chairs are front and center on the 6th floor, created by the designer to give adults the experience of a child's perspective.
Visitors can sit on either chair and feel like a character in Gulliver's Travels.
|Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik perched in one of the two Tripp Trapp chairs of his "Maxi" set.||Aidan O'Connor, MoMA's Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design. Ms. O'Connor worked with Curator Juliet Kinchin organzing the exhibition.|
|The Kiddies' Motor Wheel
Courtesy of WPA Film Library
This delightful looped film is projected on the wall of the entrance lobby and is worth pausing to watch. It's only a minute and 20 seconds.
|MoMA curator Juliet Kinchin organized the exhibition.|
|Entering the first gallery, a large vitrine is filled with Kindergarten material based on the educational theories of Friedrich Froebel.
Froebel's system departed from traditional methods of schooling in emphasizing things rather than words, and doing rather than talking or memorizing.
|This group of early twentieth-century workbooks, which demonstrate Froebel's educational philosophy, were all prepared by women, whom many reformers at the time considered more effective than men as educators of infants.
The distinct visual character of each workbook indicates the range of creative expression that was possible using Froebel's "Gifts."
|Froebel's educational tools comprised a system of nonrepresentational objects and materials that aimed to develop recognition and appreciation of natural harmony. These early exercises in abstraction and pattern making paralleled many of the activities adopted by progressive schools of art and design in the early twentieth century.|
|Workbooks demonstrating kindergarten Occupations (paper folding, pricking, sewing, drawing, cutting).|
|Intent on fostering the curiosity and creativity of young minds, Froebel devised a series of twenty
playthings, which he called "Gifts." These objects formed the core of his pioneering model of early- childhood education, anchoring sessions of play that were either directed by teachers or instigated by the children themselves. Gifts included crocheted balls in different colors, wooden building blocks, geometric shapes, and steel rings that could be arranged in numerous temporary configurations.
|In mir ist Gott — Ich bin in Gott (God is in me — I am in God), 1924
From a series of blackboard drawings produced by Rudolf Steiner during lectures on anthroposophy
Chalk on paper
|Théphile-Alexandre Steinlen (French, 1859)
La Rue (The Street),1896
|Laura Kriesch (Hungarian, 1989-1966)
Child's embroidered bodice, c. 1909
Cotton embrodery on linen
|Jessie Marion King
Painted wood and leather
The simple, modest form of this dollhouse echoed the interest of Arts and Crafts architects in cottage-style housing and vernacular architecture.
The design of children's toys and books was an area in which many women excelled, chief among them King, who attended the Glasgow School of Art, where she later taught bookbinding, embroidery, and ceramic decoration. Her childlike vision and understated technical brilliance in many mediums were widely publicized in the new international arts magazines started in the 1890s and early 1900s. By using fairy-tale iconography throughout her work, King encouraged children to enter and share her make-believe world.
|Jessie Marion King
The Frog Prince Nursery Room panel was done by Jessie King, the artist who did the doll's house.
|William Eugene Drummund
High chair, 1902
Designed for the architect's residence in River Forest, Illinois
|Paul Jackson, MoMA's Senior Publicist, is too tall for any high chair.|
Public School Exercises and Recreations
Filmed at P.S.1, The Bronx
Throughout the exhibition there are wonderful film clips from the various eras.
|Tadd New Methods in Education: Art, Real Manual Training, Nature Study (1899)
Tadd emphasized freehand blackboard drawing as combining physical and intellectual exercise in a way that reflected children's natural tendency to express themselves through movement. He described this method as "a process that unfolds the capacities of children as unfold the leaves and flowers; a system that teaches the pupils that they are in the plan and part of life ... illustrated in every natural thing."
|View of Gallery installation.|
|Daisy McGlashan and her daughters in reform dress; c. 1915
Dresses designed by McGlashan, who studied in the Department of Embrodery at the Glascow School of Art.
|M. A. Wilson, Child's
Coat / Educational
Students in the Glasgow School of Art's department of embroidery were encouraged to develop their creativity and to make highly individual clothes, for themselves and their children, using basic stitches and cheap materials.
From 1899 the innovative curriculum was extended to school- children, thanks in part to the publication of Educational Needlecraft (1911).
|This textbook, used in schools throughout Britain and the Empire into the 1950s, led girls through carefully graduated exercises that paralleled the way the school's older art students were taught. The teaching was both practical and stimulating to individual artistic expression, equipping women and girls with the means to shape their everyday surroundings.|
|Teaching materials conceived and commissioned by Maria Montessori, c. 1925
Painted wood and various materials
|János Vaszary, Woven Wall
The Gödöllő arts and crafts community supported itself with a weaving school that in 1907 became a national training center. At its height, the school employed about forty weavers, many of them children, the most skilled of whom executed designs by established artists, such as this example by János Vaszary.
|The bold, flattened treatment of the figures made reference to Vaszary's painterly preoccupations, but translated into the form of a woven textile—a vernacular tradition with a rich history in Hungary.
The involvement of artists in modernizing craft traditions and easing rural poverty was central to the ideology of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Chairs and desk from a school for the rural poor
|Closeup of top of desk. You can see the inkwell and the slots for writing instruments.|
Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas
In Klimt's painting of a pregnant woman, the unborn child as an embodiment of hope is complicated by unsettling allusions to death in the form of a skull nestling on her belly.
The anxiety suggested by this imagery mirrored the intellectual and aesthetic ferment of Vienna at the turn of the century, above all the emergence of psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud's explorations of the child within every adult persona.
The ornate decoration in Hope, ll nearly overwhelms its surface. Klimt was committed to craftwork, and was among the many artists of his time who combined archaic traditions--her Byzantine gold-leaf painting--with a modern psychological subject.
|Gerrit Rietveld (Dutch, 1888-1964)
|Ladislav Sutnar (American, born Bohemia, now Czech Republic)
Turned and painted wood
|Joaquin Torres-Garcia (Uruguayan, 1874-1949)
|Joaquin Torres-Garcia (Uruguayan, 1874-1949)
American, born Bohemia (now Czech Republic)
Prototype for Build the Town Building blocks, 1940-43; Painted wood
In keeping with his commitment to modernist principles, Sutnar believed in the cognitive power of a visual language rooted in elemental shapes and color.
Building entire cities with blocks, he believed, would give children an awareness of form and structure that made direct reference to the simple, geometric volumes of functionalist architecture, while also giving a sense of the functional and aesthetic interrelationships between different types of buildings in the modern city. He described these nonverbal, object lessons, taught through play, as "mental vitamins necessary for the right development of a child."
|Installation shot of Antonio Rubino's Side chair and bedroom panel.|
|Giovanni Prini (Italian, 1877-1958)
|Kaj Bojesen (Danish, 1886-1958)
Numbers Toy Cart
|John G. Rideout (American, 1898-1951)
Harold L. Van Doren (American, 1895-1957)
Skippy-Racer, c. 1933
Steel, paiint, wood and rubber
|THIS ENTIRE SECTION IS DEVOTED TO PROPAGANDA AS USED IN TEXTILES, POSTERS AND BOARD GAMES FOR CHILDREN|
|Children's kimonos, c. 1930
The curious assemblage of visual references in the patterns of these boys' kimonos, classic items of Japanese ceremonial clothing, reflects the tensions created by the speed of the country's modernization and the military aspirations of the Meiji rulers.
|Detail showing the manga character Norakuro.|
|Detail of toy soldiers and blocks.||Detail showing Japanese bomber planes.|
|Graf Zeppelin toy dirigible
Iron alloy, aluminum, enamel paint and decals
|SAKAMPF board game, 1933
Note the 13 little toy soldiers
After 1933 all German children's organizations were outlawed except for the officially sanctioned Hitler Youth, and the paramilitary overtones of German youth culture became more pronounced.
These priorities were reinforced by Nazi-themed toys, books, and board games such as SAKAMPF,
which prepared young boys for an active role in the armed forces and encouraged them to identify with the Nazi insignia and ideology.
|Detail of playing pieces: soldiers with swastikas on their arms.|
|Book by Niels Brordersen (German, 1895-1971), Richard Grune (German, 1903-1983) and Andreas Gayk
Kie Rote Kinderrepublik
|Pierre Pinsard (French, 1906-1988)
Little Black Stories for Little White Children
|Layout from Pierre Pinsard's Little Black Stories for Little White Children.|
|F. Touzat (French)
Mon Alphabet (My Alphabet), c. 1940
Ink on paper
|Even Donald Duck and Goofy went off to war.|
|On the left, The Gremlins, by Flight Lieutenant Roald Dahl (and I hope you read that carefully!)
On the right:
Pascual Recluta (Easter recruits), 1943
A Walt Disney Production booklet distributed in Cuba
American, born Switzerland, 1909-1999
Study for The Cycle of a Woman's Life, 1935
Bloch's design for a mural in a high-rise women's jail in downtown Manhattan made a bid for the heartstrings and possible reform of its audience with a diverse group of children innocently playing marbles on a city sidewalk.
This scene was conceived as part of The Cycle of a Woman's Life, a series of murals whose theme was approved by the inmates themselves. On such depictions the New York Times commented in 1938, "The first leit-motif that strikes the observer is a preoccupation with the quieter, gayer sides of life in this city. .... Children, trees, dogs and flowers squeeze in everywhere, like grass cracking through cement."
American, born Lithuania, 1898-1969
Children of Destitute Mountaneer, Arkansas, 1935
Gelatin silver print
|Figli della Lupa (Sons of the Wolf) tableware set
Outside the classroom, Italian children could eat and drink from tableware designed to whet their appetites for future service in the colonies.
In the mid-1930s the Richard Ginori porcelain factory manufactured children's plates, cups, and saucers decorated with stereotypical colonial imagery—the ubiquitous palm tree, camel, pith
helmet, rifle, tank, and huts flying the Italian flag—that celebrated Italy's conquests in North and East Africa.
|Child's Utility vest, 1942-1952
|Abram Games (British, 1914-1996)
This Child Found A Blind, poster designed for the War Office, London Lithograph, 1943
|THE PRESS CONFERENCE WAS HELD IN THIS GALLERY|
|Conversation moderated by MoMA's Director Glenn Lowry with Juliet Kinchin, and Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.
Ms. Morra was on hand to discuss the many films which wil be shown through August in MoMA's Titus Theater 1. "Cinema," she said, "has always embraced children going back to the 1870s."
Shown under the sobriquet of "Unaccompanied Minors: Views of Youth in Films from the Collections," these movies and clips have a central theme: "tracing the image of the emancipated child as central subject, as witness, and sometimes as a catalyst for change."
Check the museum's website for a schedule.
|Invited members of the press as well as various MoMA staffers. You should recognize many of these people by now.|
|Glenn Lowry||... and his dapper socks.|
|Lowry joking that his own children could be the "ragamuffins" on view in many of the films.
Other names for the soot-smudged children include gamins, guttersnipes, street rats, or lil' imps.
|AND NOW WE ARE ON TO THE THREE REMAINING GALLERIES.|
|Gallery Five is a trip down memory lane for many of us — filled with everything from a slinky toy to a teak wooden monkey.
The child's chair, c. 1955, is designed by Harry Bertoia, born Italy (1915-1978)
|Richard James (American, 1914-1975)
Betty James (American, 1918-2008)
Slinky, 1945, steel
If your slinky ever made it all the way down your staircase ... well, you had better luck than I did.
Monkey toy, 1951
Teak and limba wood
|Charles Eames (American, 1907-1978)
Ray Eames (American, 1912-1988)
Hang-It-All coat rack, 1953
Enameled metal and painted wood
|Bruno Munari (Italian, 1907-1998)
ABC con fantasia (ABC with imagination), 1960
Plastic and cardboard
|V.E.B. (Erfurt, Germany)
Child's typewriter, c. 1952
|Children's sandals, 1950
Leather with crepe soles
The Start-rite brand of children's fitted footwear was developed to allow tiny feet to grow through the late teenage years without damage. In 1952, the company invested in special lasts (the molds used to build a shoe) specifically for children's sizes, available in multiple width fittings and based on the natural shape of a child's foot.
British, born Hungary, 1902-1987
Good Toys, 1966
Danish born 1923
Child's chair, 1957
Beech plywood with lacquered seat
|Barbie Dream House
The first Barbie doll, designed by Ruth Handler and inspired by Germany's Lilli doll, was launched at the New York Toy Fair in 1959. Barbie's first Dream House of 1962, strikingly modern in appearance compared with her subsequent and current dwellings, is a cardboard studio apartment that when folded and closed could be carried, using a handle on top, like a suitcase.
With no kitchen in sight and contemporary paper furnishings (including a hi-fi, television, and hip, minimalist furniture) for the child to assemble, it provided Barbie with a youthful, modern environment to support an independent lifestyle.
|On the wall as we enter Gallery six there is a huge mural. This section explores different ways in which children and consumer culture have exerted power over each other from the 1960s through to the end of the 20th century.
Zdeněk Němeček (Czechoslovak, 1931–1991)
Sputnik play sculpture, c. 1959
Photograph by Petr Karsulin; Dolce Vita Magazine, Prague
|Child's NASA flight suit, c. 1988
Polyester and cotton
Space-patrol helmet, c. 1954
Big Boy's metallic Insulair space-pilot boots,
In the photo above, Boys in a Glasgow back court show off their Christmas presents, which include astronaut suits and Spacehoppers. This is the photo reproduced on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.
Outer space, a new frontier, was sufficiently vast
and mysterious to allow designers and toy manufacturers near-complete freedom of imagination and creation.
One rather enigmatic but popular product was Mettoy's Spacehopper. These bright orange vinyl bouncing balls, with kangaroolike faces and handles that resemble horns, are said to have been inspired by children bouncing on fishing buoys in Norway.
Pee-wee's Playhouse, the Saturday-morning children's television show broadcast on CBS from 1986 to 1991, was quirky and ambitious, the only such program of its time to mix live action, animation, and puppetry, and it was celebrated by critics and the press for its design as well as for its original writing, music, and performances.
The show's dense and lively format was complemented by the set itself, which was primarily the work of production designer Gary Panter, with Wayne White and Ric Heitzman. The playhouse, like the narrative structure it housed, is best characterized as pastiche, inhabited by a cast of regular characters created from everyday objects.
|Cameras, keyboard, turntable, plastic, metal, wood, machinery parts, and additional found objects.|
Foam, wood, plastic, metal springs, and paint
Desgned by Gart Painter, American, born 1950
Foam, plastic, fabric, metal and paint
|Playhouse wall panel with door, 1987
Vinyl, wood, brass rivets, metal hinges and paint
That's art writer Larry Qualls in front of the set. "The show," he said, "should be approached first through its objects, not the catalogue. Even at more than 500 pieces, densely displayed, it does not seem crowded. I could have seen another 500 — and how many times can you say that about any exhibition."
|Film clip from Pee-wee's Playhouse
The show enraptured young viewers, shaking up conventional ideas about domesticity, consumerism, friendship, and imagination and illustrating, according to Pee-wee's creator, Paul Reubens, that "it's okay to be different. Not that it's good, not that it's bad, but that it's all right. Tell kids to have a good time...be creative...question things."
|Despite the style's reference to Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel, the young women who adopt it do not necessarily identify with the heightened sexuality these garments might broadcast to others; the name has been taken out of context and transformed — in this case with its own complex vocabulary and various iterations that include gothic and punk Lolita (which tend to embrace the creepy along with the cute). That's Goth Lolita's Angry doll accessory on the right.|
|Ariella Budick, Arts Writer for the Financial Times.|
Japanese, born 1959
"Fuck"/girl getting yelled at
1992-2000; Crayon on paper
|AND NOW WE ARRIVE AT THE FINAL GALLERY: BETTER WORLDS|
|Artist PC Smith, who writes for Art in America.|
German, born 1945
Hippopotamus theraputic toy, 1969
Canvas and leather
Using a limited material vocabulary of jute, leather, and wood, Müller creates high-quality therapeutic toys and environments for active play, in simple handmade designs that combine robust forms (ideal for strength, balance, and motor exercises) with refined tactile qualities, bright colors, and straps or handles to encourage physical engagement.
Müller started training in toy design in 1964 and soon launched a career in design for children with special needs, establishing her own studio in 1978. Her series of burlap beasts (including the Hippo shown here), which she promoted as "coarse but cute," became popular in kindergartens and hospitals throughout Germany.
Japanese, born 1944
Child's dress, 1975
Textile in Nekky pattern, designed by Katsuji Wakisaka (1972)
Cotton and pewter buttons
|Marimekko (Finnish, Founded 1951)
Lautturi child's overalls, 1966
Textile in Noppa pattern, designed by Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesnieme (1953)
Cotton and plastic buttons
The Finnish textile and fashion house Marimekko has produced bold geometric prints that, when applied to durable, comfortable, unisex clothing, build on the principles of the early-twentieth-century movement to liberate children from restrictive clothes.
Marrimekko helped to underwrite this exhibition.
Left: Möhöfantti elephant toy and pattern sheet, 1959
Cotton, stuffing and wooden wheels
Right: Porsasurhea pig toy, 1959
Cotton and stuffing
Starting in the late 1950s Marimekko produced and sold plans for simple, abstract animal dolls that parents and children could make themselves, using leftover fabric scraps and wooden spools as wheels.
Armi Ratia, Marimekko's founder, was among the luminaries who joined Victor Papanek and R. Buckminster Fuller at the Helsinki Design Lab (HDL) in 1968, a global summit on the changing role of design and the emerging needs of a new world.
Inflatable giraffe, c. 1970
French, born 1935
Ozoo 700 desk, 1967
Polyester and fiberglass
|These toys, made by children in Makuleke Village, South Africa, are evidence of how in impoverished
areas children often become designers themselves, ingeniously producing their own playthings from the detritus of modern industry. The organization Sharing to Learn makes possible a cultural exchange between the Makuleke children and children in classrooms across the United States and around the world, allowing global peers to share their favorite books and participate in collaborative experiments such as gardening and making toys like these.
|The young children in Makuleke Village, South Africa, with their handmade toys.|
|Tshepo Limpopo is 16 and from the South African village of Makuleke. He and his friends made many of the wire objects on display.||Aidan O'Connor with Denise Ortiz, the "spiritual" mother of Tshepo Limpopo. South African laws are complicated but Tshepo lives with the Ortiz family in Connecticut. Ms. Oritz is an educator by profession and took part in a research project, Sharing to Learn, in Tshebo's village in South Africa.|
|Seymour Chwast, American, born 1931
Growing By Design
The 40th International Design Conference in Aspen, 1990
|Unknown, South Africa
Doll made by village preschool teachers with found materials, 2011
|Sabine Breitwieser, MoMA's Chief Curator of Media & Performance Art.||A wall papered with pages from The Whole Earth Catalogue (first published in 1968) is used as a backdrop for displaying photographs relating to social justice.|
|AS YOU EXIT THE EXHIBITION YOU WILL ENJOY A VISIT TO THE GIFT SHOP|
|The exhibition catalogue, Century of the Child: Growing By Design 1900-2000; $60.
By Juliet Kinchin and Aidan O'Connor with essays by Tanya Harrod, Medea Hoch, Francis Luca, Amy Ogata and Maria Paola Maino, the catalogue features over 400 illustrations.
|Keith Haring Pull Toy, $75.|
|Click here for Part 2 of Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000.|
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved.