Modern design and graphics
objects and prints from post-war Europe

12 November 2016 –
22 January 2017

Recommend this exhibition

Tapio Wirkkala (1915–1985), Glass vase. Finland, 1970.

Uncover the close but often neglected relationships between two-and three-dimensional works in this small display of objects and prints from post-war Europe.

The Museum recently acquired a large collection of glassware, ceramics, metalwork, woodwork and basketry from across Europe, mostly dating from the post-war period. This anonymous donation allows objects and prints to be integrated in a new way. The works on paper provide a dramatic background for the display of objects in different media, revealing hidden connections.

The display focuses on pieces from Scandinavia and Italy. Many of the objects are from this recent gift. The dialogues between them show how the same concerns permeate different fields of production.

In Scandinavia the influence of landscape played a huge role, whether the harsh frozen north or the many rivers, lakes and forests. Works by Finnish glassmaker Tapio Wirkkala resembling melting, cracked or carved ice, are shown against prints of desolate icy landscapes. Finnish basket maker Markku Kosonen’s works in birch bark brilliantly adapt traditional forms to create modern works of art. They are displayed alongside traditional plaited birch bark bags, still made today as expressions of cultural and national identity, despite increasing globalisation. There are Swedish prints and glass on the theme of fishing, while Denmark is represented by Erik Magnussen’s revolutionary tablewares of the 1960s and Per Kirkeby’s light-hearted ‘Telephone rings’.

The Italian section juxtaposes abstract prints by Arnaldo Pomodoro and Enrico Castellani with Enzo Mari’s tableware and colourful glass by Dino Martens and Ercole Barovier. A small final group of items includes British artist Richard Hamilton’s print ‘Toaster’ with the toaster itself, a classic design by the German company, Braun.

Most of the Scandinavian prints were acquired with funds given by Gad and Birgit Rausing. Almost all of the Italian prints have been acquired through an anonymous donor.