The Swedish-American architect and designer Greta Magnusson Grossman will be celebrated through a retrospective exhibition of works next week at R 20th Century in New York City.
Entitled A Car and Some Shorts, the exhibition emphasizes Magnusson’s significant contribution to design history and long overlooked accomplishments during her lifetime, and features vintage works from her estate, architectural drawings, personal ephemera and never before seen objects and textiles.
"This exhibition brings to light the depth of Grossman's career and, moreover, offers a deeply personal insight into her life as a designer working alongside the now icons of American modernism,” said Evan Snyderman, co-curator and principal of R 20th Century. “When we first introduced Grossman's work just over a decade ago, her name was virtually unknown. Now she is the subject of this expansive survey exhibition, her work has been acquired by several institutions and is passionately collected by an international audience.”
Beginning with her education and early career as one of the few female designers defining Swedish Modernism in the 1930s, the exhibition chronicles Grossman’s meteoric rise upon settling in Los Angeles, where she designed for Barker Bros., then the largest home furnishings store in the country with a focus on modern design. Grossman opened her own showroom on storied Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and began her career as an architect and industrial designer exemplifying the California modernist style.
Grossman’s arrival in California in the 1940s, was captured by a journalist from the San Francisco Examiner who reported that she “arrived...with the number one objective of ‘buying a car and some shorts’ as the first step toward self-Americanization.” This sense of humor and playfulness was reflected in her work which was set apart by its surprising proportions, asymmetrical lines, use of color and materials that were not common at the time.
The exhibition features Grossman’s most iconic products, the Grasshopper floor lamp and the Cobra floor and table lamps, as well as items from her personal estate such as lighting prototypes, ceramics and textiles. Also on view will be more than thirty framed drawings of her architectural projects and one-to-one scale drawings for her designs, as well as original books of press clippings, and photographs of Grossman and her designs by renowned photographer Julius Shulman.
The works in the exhibition, curated by Snyderman and Karin Åberg Waern, curator, Arkitekturmuseet, are returning to New York City after having been on view at the Swedish Museum of Architecture, the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
The exhibition will be on view May 2 - June 22. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, May 2 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. For additional information, visit the website.
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