above > Butaque Chair / clara porset / 1950s
the work of clara porset, lola álvarez bravo, anni albers, ruth asawa, cynthia sargent, and sheila hicks has never been shown together before. while some of these artists and designers knew one another and collaborated together, they are from different generations, and their individual work encompasses a range of media varying from furniture and interior design to sculpture, textiles, photography, and prints. they all, however, share one defining aspect: mexico, a country in which they all lived or worked between the 1940s and 1970s. during this period they all realized projects that breached disciplinary boundaries and national divides
this exhibition is the first to explore mexico’s impact on these visionary artists and designers. it takes its title from a quote by clara porset, a political exile from cuba who became one of mexico’s most prominent modern furniture designers. influenced by bauhaus ideas, she believed that design could reshape cities, elevate the quality of life, and solve large-scale social problems. this approach informed her 1952 exhibition art in daily life, in whose catalogue she wrote, “there is design in everything … in a cloud, in a wall, in a chair, in the sea, in the sand, in a pot,” encouraging us to look at both the natural and machine world for inspiration and ideas.
curated by zoë ryan, chair and curator of architecture and design, the art institute of chicago