Julius Shulman — Photograph of Case Study House #21 (Pierre Koenig, Los Angeles, 1958), 1958
This winter the Blanton Museum of Art is pleased to present Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury, on view February 22 through May 17. One of the most ambitious exhibitions ever organized on this seminal period, Birth of the Cool encompasses the painting, architecture, furniture design, decorative and graphic arts, film, and music that launched mid–century modernism in the United States and established Los Angeles as a major American cultural center. The influence of these modernist practices on contemporary art and culture has been widespread, and today the styles associated with this period have become shorthand for beauty, sophistication, and confident urbanity. Birth of the Cool, organized by the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California, comes to the Blanton for the fifth and final stop of a successful tour of both the west and east coasts. “This is a perfect show for Austin,” says Blanton Interim Director Ann Wilson. “The ‘cool’ aesthetic that the exhibition celebrates is very much evident in the lifestyle of our city.” Annette Dimeo Carlozzi, curator of American and contemporary art for the Blanton adds, “Birth of the Cool is inspired by musical experimentation, but also examines the inter–connectedness of many visual art forms––painting, graphic design, film, architecture and design, and photography, among them––which feels very much like Austin’s creative energy at this moment. Austin has always had a great affinity for California, and since mid–century modernism is so fashionable, the show will be a marvelous opportunity to see where some of these signature styles emerged from.” In celebration of “all things cool,” the Blanton is planning a wide range of programs with other university departments and community venues and organizations. Film screenings, music performances and other events will be held in conjunction with the exhibition.