“The decisive years in which an extraordinary relationship forged one of the world’s great institutions, the Museum of Modern Art in New York… a turning point in bringing modernism and consciousness of design to North America.” – Phyllis Lambert
Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and Philip Johnson spotlights a crucial, though little-known, aspect of the development of American modern design: the collaboration between Alfred H. Barr, Jr. (1902‐1981), the first director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and Philip Johnson (1906‐2005), MoMA’s first curator of architecture. The exhibition focusses on the contribution of these two visionaries and friends who spread the ideas of the Bauhaus and acquainted North America with modern design and architecture by means of pioneering exhibitions that they organized at MoMA, such as Modern Architecture: International Exhibition (1932) and Machine Art (1934).
The exhibition traces the development of modern design from Bauhaus up to the influential MoMA exhibitions of the 1930s. It brings together archival documents and over seventy design objects – furniture, textiles, and industrial design products – including twenty-one from the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, held today by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and some Bauhaus and New Bauhaus pieces on loan from MoMA.
Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and Philip Johnson is organized around five major themes: Bauhaus in America; Johnson’s Apartment; Barr’s Apartment; The Exhibition Machine Art at MoMA; and The Spreading of a Modern Aesthetic in America. The exhibition combines the presentation of design objects with an original experience paying tribute to the bold spirit of the two men. It uses multi‐platform digital technology, including autostereoscopic display, which makes it possible to see images in 3D without the use of glasses. The audiovisual presentations were designed by the filmmaker and director Philippe Baylaucq, in partnership with the Montreal content producer Toast Studio and 3D consultant Alain Baril.
“Partners in Design represents the mission undertaken by Liliane M. Stewart to research, publish and organize exhibitions on the remarkable collection of international design she created over the years… This was the last exhibition undertaken by Liliane M. Stewart in her lifetime and it is dedicated to her memory. We like to think that she would be very pleased with the result”, said Bruce D. Bolton, Executive Director of the Macdonald Stewart Foundation.
Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and Philip Johnson is organized by the Liliane and David M. Stewart Program for Modern Design, in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition is curated by David A. Hanks, Curator of the Liliane and David M. Stewart Program for Modern Design. Diane Charbonneau, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is collaborating on the Montreal presentation. The exhibition is designed by the architect Wendy Evans Joseph, from Studio Joseph, New York, in collaboration with Sandra Gagné, Head of Exhibitions Production at the MMFA.
Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and Philip Johnson has signature organization support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, as well as support from public and private funders, including the Birks Family Foundation and the Drummond Foundation.
Published in English and French by The Monacelli Press, this exhibition catalogue is the result of new research. It gathers together essays by Donald Albrecht, Curator at the Museum of the City of New York; Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art; Paul Galloway, a collection expert at MoMA; David A. Hanks, design historian and curator of the Liliane and David M. Stewart Program for Modern Design; and Juliet Kinchin, also curator of architecture and design at MoMA. Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator at the MMFA, Bruce D. Bolton, Executive Director of the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, and Phyllis Lambert, Founding Director Emeritus at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, also collaborated on this work.
This richly illustrated catalogue was designed by the Montreal firm Paprika. The work includes numerous icons of modernist design, MoMA installation views, and previously unpublished images of the Barr and Johnson apartments. This fascinating study sheds new light on the introduction and success in North America of a new kind of modernism, thanks to the combined efforts of two uniquely discerning and influential individuals.
Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and Philip Johnson
Edited by David A. Hanks
240 pages, 200 illustrations.
Available at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Bookstore
The Phyllis Lambert Foundation, the Council for Canadian American Relations, the Lee Anderson Memorial Foundation and Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund provided additional financial support for the publication of the catalogue.
Fondateurs de la modernité - Le Devoir
Une page d’histoire du design - La Presse
Ambassadeurs du modernisme - Journal de Montréal– Agnès Gaudet
Modernisme américain à l’honneur au Musée des beaux-Arts de Montréal - Index-Design – Marie Tremblay
C’est une exposition sur le design américain qui regroupe 70 meubles ou objets […]. C’est assez étonnant et remarquable. - ICI Radio-Canada Première, Samedi et rien d’autre – Francine Grimaldi
L’exposition Partenaires en design vue par Michel Dallaire et Eugénie Manseau - ICI Radio-Canada Première, Culture Club – Michel Dallaire
Montreal exhibit takes cursory look at missionary origins of modern design in America - The Globe and Mail – Robert Everett-Green
The Men Who Brought Modernism to the USA - AnOther magazine
MMFA exhibition spotlights Barr Jr. and Johnson - Canadian Interiors
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona Chair, 1929 (exemple about 1960). MMFA, gift of Trevor F. Peck.
Christian Dell, Type K Table Lamp, about 1928. Montreal, The Liliane and David M. Stewart Program for Modern Design.
Sven Wingquist, Self-Aligning Ball Bearing, 1907. New York, The Museum of Modern Art, gift of the manufacturer.
Ingvard B. Bjornson, Wear-Ever Rotary Food Press, vers 1928. Montreal, The Liliane and David M. Stewart Program for Modern Design.
George Nelson Associates, Ball Wall Clock, Model no. 4755. MMFA, Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Dr. Arthur Cooperberg.