MoMA and the ‘Advance’ of American Post-War Design in Europe

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Abstract
In 1951 MoMA’s Design for Use, USA, (1951) opened at the Landesgewerbemuseum in Stuttgart, West Germany. Sponsorship of this large exhibition of recent American domestic design came primarily from the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA), the government entity established to implement the Marshall Plan (1948-1951). Through this postwar relief effort the US worked to rebuild economically dislocated countries, and ex-enemy territories like Germany. The US also used the scheme to draw particular European nations into its orbit, to present the US as a worthy partner with whom to cooperate and to persuade Europeans of the benefits of the American way of life, of mass production and consumption. The show, chosen by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., of the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (New York), proved popular drawing record crowds curious about how Americans lived and the type of furniture, table wares, domestic appliances and kitchen gadgets available to US consumers. Through an analysis of archival records this paper argues that the ECA and MoMA made use of modernist notions of progress as the means by which to promote the benefits of unlimited productivity, to encourage trade relations and to foster international understanding.
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McDonald, Gay
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2006
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download gaymcdonald_dhs.doc 69 KB Microsoft Word
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