Earl S. Tupper (American, 1907-1983). Tumblers. 1954. Polyethylene, Each: 12.7 x 6.7 cm. Manufactured by Tupper Corporation, Farnumsville, MA. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer.

Manufactured by Gebr. Haarer, Frankfurt, Germany, Pouring Bins from the Frankfurt Kitchen designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky , 1926-1927, aluminum, 14 x 10.8 x 29.2 cm, Gift of Joan R. Brewster in memory of her Husband George W.W. Brewster, by exchange and the Architecture & Design Purchase Fund.

Dr. Adnan Tarcici (Yemenite, born Lebanon. 1918). Solnar Tarcici Collapsible Solar Cooker. c.1970. Aluminum, open: 53.3 x 86.3 x 109.2 cm; closed: w. 21.6 x d. 7 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the designer.

The Modern Kitchen: Changing Aesthetics, Technology, and Ideology

Tom Wesselmann (American, 1931-2004). Still Life #30. April 1963. Oil, enamel and synthetic polymer paint on composition board with collage of printed advertisements, plastic flowers, refrigerator door, plastic replicas of 7-Up bottles, glazed and framed color reproduction, and stamped metal, 122 x 167.5 x 10 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Philip Johnson. © 2010 Tom Wesselmann / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Lilly Reich (German, 1885-1947). Boarding House at Die Wohnung unserer Zeit (The Dwelling of Our Time), German Building Exhibition, Berlin, Germany, Apartment for a Single Person, view of the living room and kitchenette. 1931. Gelatin silver print, 16.8 x 22.9 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mies van der Rohe Archive, gift of the architect.

Corning Glass Works, company design (American, established 1851). Frying Pan. c. 1942. Borosilicate glass and steel, Overall: h. 7 x w. 31.8 cm, diam. 17.8 cm. Manufactured by Corning Glass Works, Corning, NY. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase.

Lurelle Guild (American, 1898-1986). Wear-Ever Tea Kettle (model 1403). c. 1932-33. Aluminum with plastic handle and lid knob, 21.6 x 24.1 cm. Manufactured by The Aluminum Cooking Utensil Co., New York, NY. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the designer.

Philippe Starck (French, born 1949). Mister Meumeu Cheese Grater. 1992. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butneliene Styrene) plastic polyamide and 18/10 stainless steel, Overall: 14 x 21 x 8.5 cm .b (spoon): 18.4 x 3.8 x 3.8 cm .c (grater): 12.4 x 7 x 1.2 cm .d (top): 3.1 x 13.4 x 8.3 cm. Manufactured by Alessi, Crusinallo, Italy. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. David Whitney Collection, Gift of David Whitney.

Philippe Starck (French, born 1949). Ceci N'est Pas une Truelle Cake Server. 1996. Stainless steel and maple, 7 x 7.9 x 26 cm. Manufactured by Officina Alessi, Italy. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. David Whitney Collection, Gift of David Whitney.

Philippe Starck (French, born 1949). Juicy Salif Lemon Squeezer. 1988. P.T.F.E.-treated pressure cast aluminum and polyamide, 29.2 x 12.7 cm. Manufactured by Officina Alessi, Italy. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. David Whitney Collection, Gift of David Whitney.

Philippe Starck (French, born 1949). Hot Bertaa Kettle. 1987. Cast aluminum, silicone resin and polyamide, 25.4 x 31.7 x 16.8 cm. Manufactured by Officina Alessi, Italy. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. David Whitney Collection, Gift of David Whitney.

Helene Haasbauer-Wallrath, Swiss, 1885-1968. Die Praktische Küche (The Practical Kitchen). Poster for an exhibition at the Gewerbemuseum Basel, 1930. Lithograph, 90.2 x 127 cm. Printer: W. Wasserman, Basel. Gift of Jim Lapides and the Architecture & Design.

 

MoMA
11 West 53 Street
212-708-9400
New York
The Michael H. Dunn Gallery, Second Floor
Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen
September 15, 2010-March 14, 2011

Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen examines the kitchen and its continual redesign as a barometer of changing aesthetics, technologies, and ideologies. Comprising almost 300 works drawn from the Museum’s collection, including design objects, architectural plans, posters, photographs, archival films, prints, paintings, and media works, the exhibition’s centerpiece is an unusually complete example of the iconic Frankfurt Kitchen, designed in 1926–27 by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and recently acquired by MoMA. In the aftermath of World War I, about 10,000 of these kitchens were manufactured for public-housing estates built around Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, as part of a comprehensive 5-year program to modernize the city. Schütte-Lihotzky’s compact and ergonomic design, with its integrated approach to storage, appliances, and work surfaces, reflected a commitment to transforming the lives of ordinary working people on an ambitious scale. Since the innovations of Schütte-Lihotzky and her contemporaries in the 1920s, kitchens have continued to articulate, and at times actively challenge, our relationships to food; popular attitudes toward the domestic role of women, family life and consumerism; and even political ideology, as in the case of the famous 1959 Moscow Kitchen Debate between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War. Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen is organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, and Aidan O’Connor, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

Historically, kitchens were often drab, poorly ventilated, and hidden from view in a basement or annex, but by the end of the 19th century the kitchen became a bridgehead of modern thinking in the domestic sphere. Counter Space shows the variety of innovations that were developed in the 20th century through an array of design objects: appliances powered by gas and electricity (the earliest, a 1907 kettle designed by Peter Behrens for AEG); heat-resistant glass and steel wares that were featured in MoMA’s landmark 1934 Machine Art exhibition; and colorful plastics ranging from Tupperware to Japanese artificial food for restaurant display from the 1970s. These objects are complemented by works by artists including Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Laurie Simmons, all drawn from MoMA’s collection.

The exhibition is arranged in three sections which span the 20th century. The New Kitchen, an interwar design concept that embodied modernist principles of efficiency, hygiene, and standardization, appeared in numerous iterations throughout Europe and the United States. By transforming daily life at the level of the kitchen, it was argued, behavioral change and improved social well-being would follow. Modernist architects and designers like Schütte-Lihotzky looked to the model of the laboratory or factory to create rational, labor-saving kitchens that minimized drudgery. Their ambitions are reflected small-scale in works such as Wagenfeld’s 1938 Kubus storage system or Rex Stevens’ stainless steel mixing bowls. The section concludes with World War II, during which rationing of food and materials emphasized frugality and necessitated new products such as the glass frying pan by Corning, which introduced Pyrex.

After World War II, particularly in America, a climate of abundance and an emphasis on consumer choice put a new spin on the well-established rhetoric of efficiency and anti-drudgery in design for the kitchen. Visions of Plenty looks at postwar kitchens — larger, more colorful, and family-centered — that glorified the ease and comfort of fully-automated design. The idea of the dream kitchen, captured in Tom Wesselmann’s exuberant Still Life #30 collage of 1963, was celebrated in commercial films produced by manufacturing giants such as General Electric and Frigidaire, several of which are in the exhibition. Images from the Museum’s vast collection of film stills, for example, Full of Life (1956), with Judy Holliday, emphasize how Hollywood helped prime consumer desire for modern kitchens and appliances.

During the 1950s, the German appliance company Braun, began to develop a cohesive family of objects that quickly became known for their superior functionality and pure form, such as the Multipurpose Kitchen Machine, which is exhibited complete with all 16 different fixtures. Italy pioneered design in plastics, and in the 1960s designers re-imagined the entire kitchen in flexible, mobile, and miniaturized forms. An example is Virgilio Forchiassin’s Spazio Vivo mobile kitchen unit (1968), featured in the exhibition.

Alternative design thinking for the kitchen by the 1970s pushed beyond new materials and forms to social and environmental concerns. In Sweden, groups like Ergonomi Design shaped kitchen tools for the elderly and physically disabled. And dedicated designers like Lebanese diplomat Adnan Tarcici supported sustainable energy with impressively simple solar cookers, a collapsible version of which is featured. Contemporary designers continue to creatively address the enormous range of materials, functions, possibilities and problems that reside in the modern kitchen.

The final section, Kitchen Sink Dramas, introduces a human element to the kitchen — a space that evokes a gamut of emotions, from genuine pleasure to anxiety. Photographs, prints, and media works by contemporary artists highlight the kitchen as a subject that has permeated artistic practice since the late 1960s as a means of addressing larger debates around economics, politics, and gender. Included in the installation are Cindy Sherman’s untitled film stills with groceries in a kitchen, William Eggleston’s photographs of the inside of an oven and a freezer, and Martha Rosler’s 1975 video, Semiotics of the Kitchen.

Throughout the exhibition prominence is given to the contribution of women, not only as the primary consumers and users of the domestic kitchen, but also as reformers, architects, designers, and as artists who have critically addressed kitchen culture and myths.

Kenneth Brozen (American, 1927-1989). Serving Bowl. 1963. Acrylic and aluminum, Overall: 22.8 x 24.1 x 24.1 cm .a: 4 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2" (10.2 x 24.1 x 24.1 cm) .b: 4 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2" (10.2 x 24.1 x 24.1 cm) .c: 12.1 cm, diam. 19.7 cm. Manufactured by Robinson, Lewis and Rubin, Inc., Brooklyn, NY. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the designer.

Braun AG (German, est. 1921). Multipurpose Kitchen Machine, blender configuration. 1957. Enameled metal casing and plastic, 48.9 x 33 x 16.5 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer.

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (Austrian, 1897-2000). Frankfurter Küche (Frankfurt Kitchen). 1926-7. As illustrated in Das Neue Frankfurt 5 (1927).

Margarete SchŸtte-Lihotzky (Austrian, 1897-2000). Frankfurt Kitchen from the Ginnheim-Hšhenblick Housing Estate, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (reconstruction). 1926-27. Various materials, 266.7 x 391.2 x 208.3 c). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Joan R. Brewster in memory of her Husband George W.W. Brewster, by exchange and the Architecture & Design Purchase Fund.

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (Austrian, 1897-2000). Frankfurt Kitchen from the Ginnheim-Höhenblick Housing Estate, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (reconstruction). 1926-27. Various materials, 266.7 x 391.2 x 208.3 c). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Joan R. Brewster in memory of her Husband George W.W. Brewster, by exchange and the Architecture & Design Purchase Fund.

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (Austrian, 1897-2000). Frankfurt Kitchen from the Ginnheim-Höhenblick Housing Estate, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (reconstruction). 1926-27. Various materials, 266.7 x 391.2 x 208.3 c). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Joan R. Brewster in memory of her Husband George W.W. Brewster, by exchange and the Architecture & Design Purchase Fund.

Virgilio Forchiassin (Italian). Spazio Vivo (Living Space) Mobile Kitchen Unit. 1968. Steel and plywood covered with plastic laminate, 92 x 124 x 124 cm. Manufactured by Snaidero (Italy, founded 1946). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer.

Virgilio Forchiassin (Italian). Spazio Vivo (Living Space) Mobile Kitchen Unit. 1968. Steel and plywood covered with plastic laminate, 92 x 124 x 124 cm. Manufactured by Snaidero (Italy, founded 1946). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer.

 

Peter Schlumbohm (American, born Germany. 1896-1962). Chemex Coffee Maker. 1941. Pyrex glass, wood, and leather, 24.2 x 15.5 cm diam. Manufactured by Chemex Corp., New York, NY. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Lewis & Conger.