Mid Century Modern Art
What is Mid Century Modern? If you are a design aficionado, you have probably heard of the Mid Century Modern style. This refers to the style in art and design of the post-war period. What is it that makes up the design, furnishings, and art of those years, and why is Mid Century Modern still so in demand? Find out more about the style, and shop our selection of curated artworks in the Mid Century Modern style!
Mid Century Modern
Stylistic Features of Mid Century Modern
Mid Century Modern refers to the architectural, design, and graphic trends from the mid-20th century. Some definitions date this style already to the years of the Bauhaus movement, whereas others only include the 1950s and 1960s.
Characteristic features of Mid Century Modern Design are clear lines, simple organic and geometric forms, and bold and simple designs. Strong plastic materials such as vinyl and plexiglas commingle with traditional materials such as solid wood and aluminum.
Graphic works and artworks are often decorative , and restrained in color. A high degree of functionality and user-friendliness is characteristic of this style. The ergonomic dimension of Mid Century Modern furniture and objects is one of its most distinctive features.
Famous Mid Century Modern Designers
Still today, Mid Century Modern designers and artists are highly admired. Their furniture, architecture, and art objects achieve top prices and have become absolute cult classics. Famous Scandinavian designers include: Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto and Verner Panton. From the United States the names Florence Knoll, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Herman Miller, Ero Saarinen, the architect Frank LLoyd Wright, as well as Charles and Ray Eames are widely known. Mid Century furniture, in particular, and especially chairs, have become design icons. The Lounge Chair by Ray and Charles Eames is one such icon. Others include the Egg Chair and Antchair by Arne Jacobs, Harry Bertoia's Side Chair and Diamond Chair, along with the wire mesh seat or the Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen. You can still buy these chairs from the Swiss manufacturer Vitra and the American office furniture giant Knoll.
The example of the designer chairs shows why Mid Century Modern continues to enjoy an uninterrupted popularity. The design is timeless because it dispenses with embellishments. The comfort and ergonomic qualities are unsurpassed, as is the quality of the furniture.
Today, the style is usually encountered in a kind of design ecclecticism: You do not need to have a complete Mid Century style interior. Some well-chosen individual pieces fit seamlessly into almost any interior. And Mid Century Modern has become a design imperative as much as an historical artifact: at the flea market, in grandma's attic, or online, you can still find wonderful pieces from or inspired by this era in design - both vintage and retro!
Mid Century Modern Art
Since Mid Century Modern spanned several decades, you can observe a great variety of styles and art movements in art and graphic disciplines. During this time Andy Warhol made his silkscreens of soup cans and celebrities. Jackson Pollock created huge works of Neo-Expressionism with his drip and spray technique. At the same time, purely decorative art prints with the so-called atomic pattern were popular, as were coarse ceramics inspired by the architectural style of Brutalism.
Discover which works are suitable for which furnishings or decor styles, and which LUMAS artists have consciously taken up the Mid Century Modern style.
A great change in the cityscape and the way of life of the people after the Second World War was brought about by "strong" architecture. The American successor to the Bauhaus, "International Modernism", began its triumphal march around the world. In the cities, skyscrapers were built for office space or large residential projects. In the suburbs, modular, affordable single-family homes were built. This was a high water mark of democratic socialist planning across the world. The housing shortage had to be eliminated, and families needed affordable homes of their own to escape the confinement of a multi-generational household. The economic upturn in Europe and America enabled many people to enjoy a comfortable standard of living. Many young families could afford newly built houses with stylish furniture and art objects, and embraced the modern style. It is characteristic of our period that we become aware startingly and in retrospect of the fact that architectural masterpieces were created along the way. Some of these buildings are already 70 years old, but still look like they were built yesterday!
This exciting, timeless architecture continues to engage artists to the present day. Spectacular houses are often used as film sets or for photo shoots with a retro feel. Discover in our portfolio quite extraordinary architectural photography and Mid Century Modern art prints!
Stephanie Kloss portrays the Mid Century Modern architecture of Southern California. Tim Hölscher documents the gas stations of the economic miracle, highlighting their essential features in digital postproduction. Martin Kasper on the other hand paints futuristic, unreal interiors in the best Mid Century tradition. Sabine Wild abstracts her cityscapes into postmodern expressionist masterpieces. Artists like Kloss, Kasper, and Wild all deal with Mid Century architecture in their own unique way - find your personal favorites now!
Abstract and Pop Art
It is a frequent conceit of 20th century art that a figurative period is followed by one of mounting abstraction. Starting in the 1950s, artists increasingly relied on an abstract, expressionist visual language. Mark Rothko created his color field painting, and Jackson Pollock completely redefined Expressionism. For decorative art in the domestic space, works were based on styles by forerunners such as Kandinsky, Matisse or Miró. Many geometric patterns, earth tones, primary colors or soft pastel shades characterize these works of art. Mid Century Modern abstract art partakes in these general tendencies to abstraction, while often appearing to present straightforward, fundamental forms and shapes.
In the 60s, Pop Art was a sensation: daring, colorful, critical of mass consumption and disclosing a new attitude towards the individual in society. Some of the artists worked with collages that remind one of DADA or surrealism. But many artists also turned away from the figurative world, and sought expression in the spontaneous and intuitive. Contemplation by the viewer became more important than a sovereignty of interpretation prescribed by the artist. LUMAS artists also play with abstraction and representationalism, in a manner not unlike that of mid-century artists breaking away from strong, realistic representation.
Sephora Venites combines photography and layers of acrylic glass to create a sculptural total work of art that is detached from the surface. With a wink, the former model takes up fashion photography of the 1960s or references to antiquity and thus creates a skilful mix of styles. Sanda Anderlon combines advertisements and magazine illustrations to create eye-catching collages. Loui Jover puts celebrities like Frida Kahlo or Andy Warhol in the spotlight and captures their creative spirit in his own colorful compositions. His color and formal language reminds of Bauhaus-period artworks by Kandinsky or Klee. Manuel Ros works with lines and geometric forms at the surface level, and weaves a city view or an abstract landscape like a carpet of color. Beatrice Hug lets us dive into a meditative color study with her lenticular paintings. By using tiny lenses the light is refracted into new colors and a pulsating, psychedelic effect is created. As if through a prism, Maurizio Galimberti captures city views in a mosaic of Polaroid photographs. The result is an abstract, cubistic effect that wants to show us all sides at the same time.
Mid Century Modern Landscapes
The photographic works of Julia Christe seem airy and dreamy. Only at second glance do you recognize small scenes that take place in her light-flooded landscapes. This restrained look fits perfectly in both vividly decorated apartments and minimalist living rooms. Stylishly staged landscapes by Kate Shaw are clearly inspired by Pop Art and psychedelic art. Her nature prints show a completely artificial landscape, consisting of glimmering pastel and neon colors. This colorful interpretation of landscape art is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, especially in contrast with unobtrusive Mid Century furniture.
Explore our curators' selections of artworks embodying and inspired by Mid Century Modern, and find the right piece of art for your home. Its vintage and retro styles and motifs work well in many decor schemes. Available framed and unframed, our curators recommend an unframed look for these artworks, allowing them to take full effect on your wall, at times standing alone like a prized artifact, as much something out of time as a consumer commodity.
Timeline of Mid Century Modern
|1919-1933||The influence of the Bauhaus movement is trend-setting for the development of a modern, functional architecture, furniture and design style. On July 20, 1933, the Bauhaus in Berlin is dissolved under pressure from the National Socialists.|
|1939 - 1945||The Second World War briefly interrupts the developments of Bauhaus and Modernism, and European designers and architects flee to the US. There, International Modernism develops as a further development of Bauhaus.|
|1946-1964||The generation born in the post-war period are later called Baby Boomers. Mid Century Modern architecture and interior design responds to the needs of families with many children with high-quality but mass-produced goods, organic, relatively childproof design, and inexpensive houses and furniture.|
|04.10.1957||The first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 is launched into space by the Soviet Union. The space race between the US and the Soviet Union began as early as 1944 with first rockets reaching a height of more than 100 km. This competition for aeronautical superiority was to characterize the space age and shape the entire 20th century, including art. Space Age Design and Atomic Patterns reflect this futuristic attitude to life.|
|1984||Cara Greenberg coined the term Mid Century Modern. Her 1984 book Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s, gives its name to what we understand today as architecture, design, and art of the 1930s to 1960s.|
|1989||The Vitra Design Museum opened in Weil am Rhein. In addition to retrospectives, e.g. on Charles & Ray Eames and Frank Lloyd Wright, leading design and architecture exhibitions can still be seen today.|