A Modern World


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American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920-1950

John Stuart Gordon; With an introduction by Sandy Isenstadt and contributions by Keely Orgeman, Emily M. Orr, Pan Wendt, Justin Woo, and Diane C. Wright


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Americans living in the first decades of the twentieth century felt they inhabited a modern age. A spirit of excitement and experimentation transformed the world around them, in particular the consumer goods that filled their homes and offices. A Modern World draws upon the renowned collection of American decorative arts at the Yale University Art Gallery to explore the appearance and dissemination of modern design in the United States. This catalogue organizes roughly 300 examples of silver, glass, industrial design, furniture, medals, jewelry, and printed textiles into thematic groups that chart the aesthetic and social trends that defined American design from the Jazz Age to the Space Age. The authors consider modernism broadly—from handmade luxury goods to mass-produced housewares—establishing a context for the objects within larger international developments in architecture, avant-garde art, and scientific innovation. New research and compelling juxtapositions offer an expanded understanding of the era, and designer biographies and corporate chronologies help make this catalogue a valuable resource.

Published in association with the Yale University Art Gallery

John Stuart Gordon is the Benjamin Attmore Hewitt Assistant Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery.

Sandy Isenstadt is associate professor of the history of modern architecture, University of Delaware. Keeley Orgeman, Emily M. Orr, and Diane C. Wright are Marcia Brady Tucker Fellows at the Yale University Art Gallery. Pan Wendt is a Ph.D. candidate in the history of art, Yale University. Justin Woo is a graphic designer based in Chicago.

“This book should find a place in the library of any aficionado of modern design.”—MODERN magazine

"[A]n invaluable resource to the field of American decorative arts . . . the book is a significant resource for scholars. It’s also a dream to dabble in for anyone interested in the stories objects tell."—Julie V. Iovine, Yale Alumni Magazine

“[An] elegant, substantial volume . . . exceptionally rich in content . . . imaginatively conceived . . . a refreshing, authoritative account of American modern design.”—K. L. Ames, Choice
“Stunning”—Lita Solis-Cohen, Maine Antique Digest
ISBN: 9780300153019
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Yale University Art Gallery
438 pages, 9 x 12'
329 color + 19 b/w illus.
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