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October 27, 2017 @ 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM| $8.00
On October 27, the Modernism Museum in Mount Dora, Florida, will open a new exhibition about the design collection of David Bowie. Entitled Space Oddities: Bowie Sottsass Memphis and shown to the general public for the first time, these designs were created by the Italian supergroup of designers. The exhibit will present a wide range of objects previously in the collection of the superstar performer.
Launched in 1981, Memphis was a completely new style statement, and had a huge influence on the look of the decade, from MTV videos to film to fashion. The brash colors, clashing patterns and edgy silhouettes of these objects have come to be synonymous with the 1980s.
The leader of Memphis was Ettore Sottsass, arguably the most significant Italian designer of the postwar era, and certainly the most wide-ranging. In his long career, Sottsass not only made experimental furnishings, but also industrial product designs, office suites, graphics, ceramics, and many other genres of object; his curiosity was uncontainable. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent monographic exhibition on the designer attests also to the broad influences he incorporated into his work, many of which found their way into the challenging aesthetic statements of Memphis.
Few people were bold enough to furnish their own homes with these radical works. Bowie was one of them. Showing the same unconventional, visionary qualities in his collecting as he did in his music, he acquired a large number of Memphis designs during his lifetime. The majority of these objects will be included in the display at Mount Dora.
Beyond the examples from Bowie’s own collection, the museum has gathered together a complete overview of other designs by Memphis. This will be the most comprehensive exhibition of the group’s work ever shown in a museum. Sottsass is particularly well represented, with iconic pieces such as the Carlton and Casablanca sideboards, as well as rare works like the Palm Springs dining table, which features an orange aniline-dyed top.
Beyond Sottsass, this definitive show includes work by all the core members of Memphis Among them are: Michele DeLucchi, whose objects often featured strong black and white graphics paired with geometries in bright blue and yellow; Marco Zanini and Matteo Thun, who were particularly active in designing ceramics and glass; Martine Bedin, creator of the endearing Super lamp on wheels; and the couple George Sowden and Nathalie Du Pasquier, known for their innovative work as pattern designers. In addition, the celebrated Tawaraya (a bed shaped like a boxing ring) by Masanori Umeda will be shown complete, with all original accessories – a rare opportunity to see the most monumental work ever produced by Memphis.
In addition to the core group based in Italy, Memphis also invited international designers to contribute to their collections: Peter Shire, a California-based ceramic artist, sculptor, and furniture designer; Michael Graves, the great American postmodern architect; and Shiro Kuramata, the Japanese designer, who brought his magically light touch to objects in transparent acrylic and confetti terrazzo. Space Oddities: Bowie Sottsass Memphis will include capsule displays on all these leading figures in design.
Accompanying the wealth of objects on view, the exhibition will also include an interpretive video, featuring gallerist Keith Johnson of Urban Architecture, who has played the leading role in introducing Memphis design to the USA in the 1980s and since; and the exhibition’s guest curator, Glenn Adamson. Previously Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where he co-curated a major exhibition on postmodern art and design, Adamson has also been director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.
Visitors to Mount Dora will also be able to enjoy cuisine inspired by the exhibition at the Modernism Museum’s associated restaurant 1921 by Norman Van Aken, the James Beard Award winning chef. Dishes inspired by Bowie’s music will be presented at the restaurant throughout the run of the show.
For more information about Space Oddities: Bowie Sottsass Memphis, please contact the Modernism Museum at: 352-385-0034.