MetaModern Progress Report

Only four more months until MetaModern opens…meaning the entire team – curators, editors, designers, installers – is in high gear. Krannert, c2, Practise and Rice+Lipka Architects – has lots going on.


And what a tour, largely the result of cold calls made on the basis of hunches and a few continuing long and strong relationships.

Krannert Art Museum
Longtime colleague, collaborator and friend Kathleen Harleman, Krannert director, was ready to organize the show if we would secure the requisite number of venues that would make this major project feasible. We did, and Krannert is!

De Vos Art Museum, Northern Michigan University
When we learned that John Lautner, modernist architect of the house featured in Dorit Margreiter’s video, was an alumnus of Northern Michigan University and that their extensive design center includes his drawings, models and family ephemera (the archives are housed at the Getty), we contacted Melissa Matusek, director there. She jumped on board.


Dorit Margreiter/ 10104 Angelo View Drive, 2004/ Video, transferred to a media file, color, silent, 7 min/

Courtesy of the artist and Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Krobath Vienna /Berlin

© Dorit Margreiter


Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Branded and On Display had traveled to this sharp, smart museum in 2008 and the show looked great and the public’s response was strong. When our colleague Emily Stamey, whom we worked with when she was curator at the Ulrich Museum, moved west to SMoCA, she continued to be an advocate. Intrigued by Scottsdale’s modernist roots and riffs, she made it happen.


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Branded and On Display, 2008


Cincinnati Art Museum

We reached out to the museum, organizer of the 2013 James Welling retrospective and Susan Hudson, Director of Collections & Exhibitions Management, swiftly affirmed their continuing interest in the work of this MetaModern artist by booking the show.


JW 794

James Welling, 6109, 2008/ Inkjet Print 1/5, 33.66 x 50.5 inches/ Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles/ © James Welling


Orlando Art Museum

In 2000 Ginger organized Without A Trace/Artists Imagine a World Without Us for OMA. Knowing that community so well, she curated a compelling show from collections in the area, and conversations about collaborating began. For Fall 2015 MetaModern was the right fit, and all stars have aligned.


Palm Springs Museum of Art
Anita Meyer, designer extraordinaire, first turned our heads toward the Palm Springs Art Museum after a vacation in that modernist oasis. When we finally met Daniell Cornell, Deputy Director for Art and Senior Curator, and learned about the museum’s plans for a design center to open in a former bank, things began to gel. What a way for this tour to wind up, while Palm Springs celebrates Modernism Week 2017.


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In her presentation on Guilty Pleasures at the AAMC meetings, Ginger talked about that sweet spot where the mission, content, schedule and budget intersect. It is at that moment and place when a museum commits to an exhibition. To discover six such spots is pretty unusual.

The book that will accompany the show is in itself a meta project. Author Simon Mawer responded to our out-of-the-blue invitation to write for the catalog, as his award winning The Glass Room is a literary analog to the physical approach taken by the MetaModern artists. He understood our drift and wrote a wonderful essay. It’s about the writing of this book that is the story of a fictional house based on an actual house. That’s meta.

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The research interests of Conrad Bakker, artist and theorist, and University of Illinois faculty member, resonated with MetaModern’s content. His work has been part of the checklist since its earliest iterations, and we hoped he would also contribute to the book. But his schedule and workflow didn’t allow for his writing a conventional essay. He thought to invite Kevin Huizenga, former student, current colleague – every teacher’s dream—to collaborate and the book-within-a-book they have created, a graphic novelette about the making of the book-within-the-book dealing with work that is about its own sources takes the meaning of meta to a new and far out place.



Conrad Bakker/ Untitled Project: Eames Armchair Rocker (+ Walden), 2012/ Oil on carved maple wood/ 28 x 25 x 28 inches

Courtesy of the artist/ © Conrad Bakker

Working closely with James Goggin, graphic designer and principal of Practise, we have a book in process that documents the show, provides a forum for exploring the work and ideas in the show, and in every way – typefaces, materials, papers, binding – expresses the subject it contains.


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Great exhibition design negotiates the boundary between too much and not enough. Having worked with Lyn Rice and his team, Rice + Lipka Architects, on a long list of exhibitions, including Blown Away some years ago, and StereoType, in development currently, we are confident that the design they are developing for MetaModern will be perfectly balanced on that fine edge. We have asked them to come up with a design that can travel with the show and that furthers the exploration of the meanings of meta while keeping the spotlight on the works in the show. Also, we want to keep the show from looking like the Goodwill on a bad day. The initial ideas that came forth during our late July meeting in New York – low, lightweight platforms of thick cardboard, with edges exposed – are being developed and we are standing by for their proposal.

It’s very exciting to see MetaModern in production and we can’t wait to see it for real.

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