Superhouse’s ‘Return to Downtown’ is an Iconic Exhibition of New York’s Design Art Movement | Ayushi Mathur News

“Lower Manhattan in the 70s and 80s was a melting pot of style, color and shape, people and ideas: it was alive,” says Rick Kaufman, co-founder of the historic Art and Industry Gallery. Lower Manhattan, New York was often portrayed by mainstream cinema as dazzling, delinquent and fearless in the 70s.

Known as Downtown Manhattan, it was then a compelling mosaic of a citywide financial crisis, a booming arts scene, emerging industries, and abundant creative impulses. Reminiscent of the days when the United States was being revolutionized, staring straight into the face of a cold war, a handful of art makers crafted a questionable design language of functional sculpture and furniture design. not functional. In the 1970s and 1980s, many creative consecutions took the form of a resounding voice of rejection of the modernist “form follows function” trope, effectively united by Rick Kaufman and At Tracy Rust’s iconic Art and Industry gallery. Since its inception in 1977, the art gallery has made its presence felt in many locations in downtown Manhattan. It was an expressive cultural mecca for designers at the forefront of the Design Art movement of the 1980s. Although now closed, the gallery is known as one of the most iconic art galleries in New York to showcase the best in unconventional art and design.

Superhousecrossed out by Stephane Markos and Magen H Gallerypresents its latest exhibition “Back to Downtown”, featuring the historic works of 12 designers from the Art et Industrie gallery. The exhibition will be open to the public from September 16, 2022 to October 30, 2022 at the Superhouse Showcase. While some of the works on display come from the personal archives of designers Terence Main, Carmen Spera, Terry Fugate-Wilcox, Laura Johnson Drake, Elizabeth Browning Jackson, James Hong and Howard Meister, others come from the contemporary functional art collection of Magen H Gallery. .




Exhibits from the “Return to Downtown” exhibition at Superhouse Image: Courtesy of Luis Corzo

The design language of New York City 40 years ago was characterized by radical pop, gestural, minimalist, industrial and techno designs. One such work from Kaufman and Rust’s gallery is by Terence Main iconic ‘Red Twiddler’ lacquered wood chair. Designed in 1988, the chair captures the essence and importance that Main places on biomorphic elements alongside the generative and destructive cycles of nature. The chair’s design resembles a brightly colored long-backed wooden throne with animistic patterns and shapes almost immediately transporting viewers to the utopian locale of a tribal royal kingdom.



Terence Main's Red Twiddler Chair
Terence Main’s Red Twiddler Chair Image: Courtesy of Superhouse Gallery

The Red Twiddler Chair is paired with the original pieces from Main de l’Art et Industrie – the Queen Anne Chair, which is a fun and pop version of the original Royal Chair named after Queen Anne of England (1702) and a table lamp. under the nickname Main and Mainboth pieces were originally designed by Main with life and work partner Laura Johnson Drake.



The Queen Anne chair by Terence Main
The Queen Anne chair by Terence Main Image: Courtesy of Superhouse Gallery

Celebrating and paying homage to the pillars of the Art Design movement, the Magen H Gallery also exhibits the furniture pieces of the famous graphic designer and product designer. Dan Friedman, featuring the molded plastic ‘USA Tables’ in a patriotic color palette. Designed in 1993, the tables were Friedman’s appeal to a country he considered “problematic” and in the form of places he identified as “problem spots”. Further on are the works of legendary designer and artist Forrest Myers, who is known for adorning New York’s Soho neighborhood with a public art installation, the Wall. In collaboration with Kaufman and Rust’s, Meyer presented his illustrious contributions to Abstract Expressionism through art and design in New York. He ventured into the world of sculptural designs with a balance between chaos and structure, which can be seen in his metal-wrapped ‘Pink Tuffit’. The sitting-sculpture looks like a figurative version of a creative and confused “state of mind”. His anodized aluminum altarpiece complements his Pink Tuffit glazed seat, showcasing his skills as a master metalworker.



The Pink Tuffit by Forrest Myers
The Pink Tuffit by Forrest Myers Image: Courtesy of Superhouse Gallery



The anodized altarpiece by Forrest Myers
The anodized altarpiece by Forrest Myers Image: Courtesy of Superhouse Gallery

Richard Snyder’s ‘Cabinet of the Ancient Squid’ graces the gallery space as yet another functional sculpture relic of the art movement that takes the form of eerily intriguing furniture belonging to a fictional character. The curvy tall cabinet was designed by the industrial designer in 1990 and is one of the first creative designs in an unconventional form. Strolling through the exhibition that spans the two gallery spaces of Superhouse, viewers also encounter Elizabeth Browning Jackson’s “Gloria Bench,” which was among a handful of gallery exhibitors at the ‘era. Her work has not been much documented but remains a powerful image of female empowerment in art and design through the 1980s. James Hong’s rare swivel cabinet and multi-purpose shelf inspired by pyramids Egyptian sculptures alongside Howard Meister’s P. Strut chair as a revolution against his family business of mass-produced chairs and Rafael Barrios’ perspective-defying table also grace the exhibit.



Richard Snyder's 'The Cabinet of the Ancient Squid' (left) and James Hong's Karnak Rolling Library (right)
Richard Snyder’s ‘The Cabinet of the Ancient Squid’ (left) and James Hong’s Karnak Rolling Library (right) Image: Courtesy of Luis Corzo



The Gloria Bench by Elizabeth Browning Jackson
The Gloria Bench by Elizabeth Browning Jackson Image: Courtesy of Luis Corzo

“Both galleries represent the cutting edge of functional art of their time. It is an honor to work with Magen H Gallery and the artists who launched their careers with Art and Industry to bring this important collection of historic art furniture to Superhouse audiences,” says Stephen Markos. The design exhibit offers insight into the lives and works of some of the design world’s most important artists and designers while paying homage to the Art and Industry gallery that rocked Downtown Manhattan with a transitional art movement.

‘Return to Downtown’ will be on display at the Superhouse Vitrine from September 16, 2022 to October 30, 2022.

Joseph E. Golightly