Archives for modernist

Victoria and Albert Museum Celebrate the Legacy of Plywood

PLYWOOD is a versatile material with unique qualities which offers designers infinite possibilities for creativity. When steamed, curved and moulded plywood can be manipulated into curvaceous architectural forms or laser cut using the latest technology to create intricate lace-like tracery. Even plywood scraps can be re-purposed to make eco-friendly furniture pieces.

In celebration of this remarkable material, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London mounts Plywood: Material of the Modern World, a new exhibition which highlights the significance of plywood design this summer. Iconic designs of the twentieth century relating to architecture, furniture making and transport feature throughout the displays and bring to light the ground-breaking advances in plywood manufacture which include 19th century rotary cutting and the pioneering moulding techniques of the 1930s. Christopher Wilk, exhibition co-curator and Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A, said, “Plywood is such a common, everyday material that most people barely notice when it is used. One could say that it has been hidden in plain sight.”

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibition

Moulded plywood chair designed by Grete Jalk, 1963. Photograph courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

On display will be well-known furniture pieces by Alvar Aalto, Robin Day, Charles and Ray Eames and Grete Jalk, working drawings and a fascinating array of transport designs which include a plywood canoe, a 1960s racing car with a plywood chassis and a number of vintage skateboards.

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibitionDrawing of Alvar Aalto designed Finnish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair of 1939-‘40.
Courtesy of Alvar Aalto Museum

An intriguing cluster of sculptural forms designed by Canadian-based company, Patkau Architects will be exhibited outside in the V and A’s John Madejski Garden. Cleverly constructed to withstand freezing temperatures, these plywood ice-skating shelters float on the frozen Winnipeg River and provide a welcome respite from the biting wind. Fixed to a timber frame, their flexible plywood sheets sway and creak with the elements.

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibitionPatkau Architects, Ice skating shelters, Winnipeg, 2012, Courtesy of Patkau Architects


by Miranda Charalambous

Plywood: Material of the Modern World, sponsored by and supported by the American Friends of the V&A (AFV&A) opens from July 15 – 12 November 12, 2017 in the Porter Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7942 2000


Front page image: Patkau Architects, Ice skating shelters, Winnipeg, 2012, Courtesy of Patkau Architects







Gemeente-Museum Den Haag Announces a Major Retrospective of Jan Toorop

The Gemeente-Museum Den Haag is showing the first major retrospective of works by Jan Toorop, one of the most popular Dutch artists from first half of the 20th century.

A highly prolific artist, Toorop is instantaneously recognisable to art lovers as a precursor of Art Nouveau thanks to his famous poster for Delft salad oil. He has however worked in other styles and the retrospection is focused on showcasing the diversity of his talent.

toorop 3Jan Toorop, November Sun, 1888, Oil on canvas, 62.5 x 74.5 cm, in gesso frame painted white, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Image courtesy of Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Jan Toorop was one of the most influential artists of his time, pioneering the advance of modern art and counted contemporaries as Gustav Klimt and Mondrian as his followers. It was Toorop who introduced Amsterdam to Luminism shortly after 1900. (Luminism is an American landscape painting style popular in the early part of the 20th century which emphasised effects of light in landscapes, through the use of aerial perspective and concealment of visible brushstrokes). He was also one of the driving forces behind the creation of Dutch avant-garde artists’ association the Moderne Kunstkring and designed elaborate programmes for churches.

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Jan Toorop (design), Delft Salad Oil, 1895, Poster, colour lithograph, 86.5 x 56 cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Image courtesy of Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Toorop’s intrepid appropriation of French Pointillists’ technique and his further switch to Symbolism that have seen his reinvent his own art, made him the main innovator of his day and a source of inspiration for other artists.

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Fatalism, 1893, Black and yellow chalk, pencil and paint on brownish paper, 60 x 75 cm, Kröller-Müller Museum.
Image courtesy of Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Gerard van Wezel, guest curator at the museum, has spent over 30 years researching Toorop’s distinctive style and evolving career and his findings majorly contributed to the creation of the exhibition. His researched reveled that even though the artist have experimented with different styles, his individual style prevailed and put a stamp on all his works, keeping them consistent despite of weaving approaches.

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De toi, Vil Animal – pour pétrir un génie, O fangeuse grandeur! sublime ignominie! (You, Vile Animal – to mould a genius, Oh, filthy greatness! Sublime infamy!), 1891 Black and coloured chalk, pencil and coloured crayons, heightened with white wax crayon, on paper, 54.4 x 35.4 cm Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.Image courtesy of Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Jan Toorop’s major works have been included thanks to loans and financial backing secured with the help from Fonds 21 and the VSBfonds, Hein Fonds, Stichting
 De Gijselaar-Hintzenfonds and Stichting Gifted Art. The 200 pieces strong exhibition, including all of Toorop’s main artworks from collections in the Netherlands and abroad, reveal him as a truly modern artist and a major player in the international avant-garde of the period.

by Magda Pirowska

Exhibition opens on the February 26 until May 29 After the show in The Hague, the exhibition will travel in modified form to Villa Stuck in Munich, Museum Bröhan in Berlin and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.