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Women's Swimsuit (1961) by Mary Ann DeWeese 1913-93. Image courtesy QAGOMA and LACMA.
Have you ever played with a Barbie doll or pulled on a pair of class Levi Strauss 501 jeans? We don't often think about the origins of such iconic items but a blockbuster exhibition coming to Queensland will reveal both Barbie and blue jeans are products of a culture much like our own.
What's described as a 'sprawling' exhibition will feature more than 250 disparate objects which, collectively, reveal how California shaped Western design culture.
'California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way' features an assortment of furniture, textiles, fashion, graphic and industrial design, ceramics, jewellery, metalwork, architectural drawings and film. As well as Barbie and blue jeans, innovative furniture by Charles and Ray Eames and film posters by Saul Bass are billed as must-sees.
Surfboard (c. 1960) by Greg Noll. Image courtesy QAGOMA and LACMA.
One reviewer, when the exhibition appeared at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) last year, overheard several people say, 'My parents owned these!' but noted the continuing contemporary appeal of the collection: 'What was most surprising to me was that the majority of designs on view are just as fresh today as they were more than 50 years ago, and that they continue to inspire the way we live in California.'
Curated by Wendy Kaplan, Curator and Department Head, and Bobbye Tigerman, Associate Curator, of LACMA's Decorative Arts and Design Department,'California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way' was first staged in 2011–12 at LACMA, the largest art museum in the western United States.
Kaplan says it's fitting that this exploration of the Golden State, which has already visited Tokyo and Auckland as part of a global tour, was now coming to the Sunshine State, as so many of the exhibition's themes will resonate with an Australian audience.
Both post-war California and Australia 'had burgeoning, newly prosperous populations, a benign climate that permitted life to be led informally and largely out of doors, and embraced design innovation and new materials', she says. 'The mid-century home became a hugely influential model for the rest of America, and indeed, the world.'
The exhibition will be accompanied by an Up Late program including live music and talks on Friday nights from November 8 to December 13.