In 1934, New York's Museum of Modern Art staged a major exhibition of ball bearings, airplane propellers, pots and pans, cocktail tumblers, petri dishes, protractors, and other machine parts and products. The exhibition, titled Machine Art, explored these ordinary objects as works of modern art, teaching museumgoers about the nature of beauty and value in the era of mass production.Telling the story of this extraordinarily popular but controversial show, Jennifer Jane Marshall examines its history and the relationship between the museum's director, Alfred H. Barr Jr., and its curator, Philip Johnson, who oversaw it. She situates the show within the tumultuous climate of the interwar period and the Great Depression, considering how these unadorned objects served as a response to timely debates over photography, abstract art, the end of the American gold standard, and John Dewey's insight that how a person experiences things depends on the context in which they are encountered. An engaging investigation of interwar American modernism, Machine Art, 1934 reveals how even simple things can serve as a defense against uncertainty.
"This book is a stunning contribution to our deepening understanding of the multiple conceptual and cultural forces shaping American modernism. Marshall shows how these are grounded not simply in aesthetic and formal developments but in philosophical convictions whose impacts are played out across a wide spectrum of national life. In her masterfully concise account of the 1934 "Machine Art" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, we are guided through the anxious worlds of value and meaning as they were negotiated in the decades between the wars. Ranging from debates over currency, labor, and consumerism, to divisions among idealists and pragmatists, elites and populists, "Machine Art, 1934" is a richly satisfying case study whose lessons reach very far indeed."
--Angela Miller, Washington University in St. Louis
|Preface: A Particular Brand of Modernism||p. xiii|
|Introduction: Material Formalism||p. 1|
|Objectification: Machine Art's Photographic Operations||p. 15|
|In Form We Trust: Machine Art's Neoplatonism at the End of the American Gold Standard||p. 55|
|The Art of Parts: Machine Art's Alienated Objects and their Rationalized Reassembly||p. 89|
|Empiricism: The Object of Machine Art's Experience||p. 127|
|Epilogue: Opening the Circle||p. 161|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 30th May 2012
Dimensions (cm): 26.3 x 18.7 x 2.319
Weight (kg): 0.938