Cover image for Vital forms : American art and design in the atomic age, 1940-1960
Vital forms : American art and design in the atomic age, 1940-1960
Rapaport, Brooke Kamin.
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Publication Information:
New York : Brooklyn Museum of Art in association with H.N. Abrams, [2001]

Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Published on the occasion of an exhibition held at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, and four other institutions between Oct. 12, 2001 and June 29, 2003.
The United States, 1941-1963 : a historical overview / Paul Boyer -- The greater mystery of things : aspects of vital forms in American art / Brooke Kamin Rapaport -- Building organic form : architecture, ceramics, glass, and metal in the 1940s and 1950s / Martin Filler -- From Futurama to Motorama / Mildred Friedman -- Organic glitz : designing popular culture in the postwar era / Karal Ann Marling.
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Call Number
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N6512 .R35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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From the Studebaker, the Slinky (R), & the Eames chair, to the TWA terminal, paintings by deKooning & mobiles by Calder, this fascinating book examines how artists & designers responded to atomic-age anxieties during the postwar period.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The Brooklyn Museum of Art has always taken an invaluable interdisciplinary and humanistic approach to American art history, producing such groundbreaking overviews as The Machine Age in America, 1918-1941 (1986), which has just been reissued, and now this vibrant interpretation of the aesthetics of the two decades immediately following World War II. The atom bomb delivered unprecedented devastation to Japan, a queasy victory to America, and the ongoing threat of nuclear annihilation to the entire planet. Curators Rapaport and Stanyon reveal how the resulting paradoxical mix of relief, fear, and guilt induced American artists and designers to reject the rigidity of machines and turn instead to softly curving, organic, or vital forms evoking nature, the human body, and the life force itself in their search for new forms of expression in a radically altered world. Deftly illuminating the work of such painters and sculptors as Pollock and David Smith, designers Charles and Ray Eames, and architects Wright and Saarinen, the authors present a vital inquiry into the vital artistic forms of a contradictory, acutely relevant time. Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

Presenting a slice of American life from 1940 to 1960, this exhibition catalog examines the emergence of abstract organic forms (or "vital forms") and their assimilation into the arts and popular culture of mid-century America. From Alexander Calder's sculpture to the slinky and every step in between, the authors look at abstract natural forms within advertising, commercial design, decorative arts, and the fine arts. The exhibition is organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art and is the third in a series devoted to exploring the interdisciplinary evolution of American art. Rapaport (associate curator of contemporary art, Brooklyn Museum of Art) and Stanyon (chair of decorative arts, Brooklyn Museum of Art), the principal authors of this catalog, present a thought-provoking and entertaining look back at a reactionary, but cautionary, period in American art and culture. The essays examine larger cultural and social issues as well as art history from the perspective of the mid-20th century. Well written and abundantly illustrated, with a helpful bibliography and index, this work is recommended for all libraries. Kraig Binkowski, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.