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Silver to Steel: The Modern Designs of Peter Muller-Munk
Opening November 21, 2015
Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces Silver to Steel: The Modern Designs of Peter Muller-Munk, opening November 21, 2015, in the museum’s Heinz Galleries.
Peter Muller-Munk was a brilliant silversmith, a pioneering industrial designer and educator, and a visionary spokesperson for his profession. Silver to Steel is the first retrospective of his four-decade career.
With more than 120 works of hand-wrought silver and popular mid-century products, supported by drawings and multimedia interviews, and playfully incorporating period advertising, the exhibition presents the untold story of a man who rose from anonymity as a young silversmith at Tiffany & Co. to become a crucial postwar fulcrum, promoting the practice of industrial design across the globe via a top American design consultancy: Pittsburgh’s Peter Muller-Munk Associates (PMMA).
The exhibition opens with Muller-Munk’s celebrated Modernist silver of the 1920s and 1930s. His best-known designs—the streamlined Normandie pitcher (1935) and the skyscraper-inspired Waring Blendor (1937)—reveal his transition from silversmith to industrial designer and herald an eye-opening presentation of his mass-produced objects. These highly functional and visually striking designs include Bell & Howell cameras, Westinghouse radios and appliances, Griswold cookware, Val Saint Lambert tableware, Porter-Cable power tools, Texaco gas stations and corporate identities, and prototypes in new materials for US Steel. For all its clients the PMMA firm addressed the challenges of a surging postwar consumer culture with vigor and intelligence, producing designs that pleased consumers and became highly successful in the marketplace.
Silver to Steel: The Modern Designs of Peter Muller-Munk establishes Muller-Munk, and PMMA, squarely in the canon of mid-century design, and introduces a new audience to a founding father of the field. It reveals the creative side of Pittsburgh, a complement to the city’s industrial might in its manufacturing heyday. Through striking presentations of once familiar objects, the exhibition emphasizes the pervasive influence of good design on everyday life.
Silver to Steel is organized by Rachel Delphia, The Alan G. and Jane A. Lehman Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at Carnegie Museum of Art and Jewel Stern, guest curator and independent scholar. The exhibition runs November 21, 2015–March 14, 2016.
The exhibition catalogue, Silver to Steel: The Modern Designs of Peter Muller-Munk, co-authored by Delphia and Stern, will be published in November by DelMonico Books/Prestel.
Support for Silver to Steel: The Modern Designs of Peter Muller-Munk is provided by the Kaufman Endowment; the Henry L. Hillman Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts; The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art; Richard, Priscilla, Bill, and Janet Hunt; Trib Total Media; the Alan G. & Jane A. Lehman Foundation at the request of Ellen Lehman and Charles Kennel; the Bessie F. Anathan Charitable Trust at The Pittsburgh Foundation at the request of Ellen Lehman; Edith H. Fisher; the Alexander C. & Tillie S. Speyer Foundation; Richard L. Simmons; Anonymous; The Roy A. Hunt Foundation; The Barrie and Deedee Wigmore Foundation; Macy’s; Wells Fargo Advisors; Sheryl and Bruce Wolf; and The Port Authority of Allegheny County.
General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Carnegie Museum of Art
Located at 4400 Forbes Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, it is nationally and internationally recognized for its distinguished collection of American and European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 19th century to the present. Founded in 1896, the Carnegie International is one of the oldest surveys of contemporary art worldwide. The Heinz Architectural Center, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the built environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. The Hillman Photography Initiative serves as an incubator for innovative thinking about the photographic image. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, call 412.622.3131 or visit our website at www.cmoa.org.
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