How do the things you use and are surrounded by on a daily basis—from the chairs you sit in to your choice of coffee maker to the design of your house and the art on your walls—impact your life? And what do these things reflect about you? Now apply those questions to society as a whole…These are the kinds of questions The Wolfsonian–Florida International University museum asks visitors to consider through its provocative exhibitions, programs, and publications. In short, what role do art, design, and everyday objects play in shaping the past, present, and future?
This fall, the museum is host to several intriguing exhibitions, installations, and related programs. The Wolfsonian’s fall highlights include the museum’s annual fundraising event hosted by The Wolfsonian Visionaries, a celebration of creativity, design, and Miami’s best cuisine, which takes place on November 10 at the historic Moore Building.
The museum’s permanent exhibition, Art and Design in the Modern Age (ADMA), displays a collection of modern objects from the museum’s period, 1885 to 1945. Exhibition themes underscore designers’ responses to new materials and technologies, the role of graphic design as an instrument of political and commercial persuasion, and the nature of state-sponsored public art and architecture programs. ADMA’s galleries also feature rotating installations. Currently on view is Visions of Victory: Picturing the Spanish- American War.
In the spirit of the 2012 presidential election season, the museum is now showcasing works on early twentieth century elections in the U.S. and Europe including books, printed ephemera, and a selection of political posters from the collection, which highlights the important role posters played in electoral politics and their efficacy in reaching people in the streets.
Two major exhibitions opening this fall each investigate the role of the worker, but from very different perspectives. Postcards of the Wiener Werkstätte: Selections from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection goes on view November 15. The exhibition explores a selection of artists’ postcards produced from 1907 to 1919 by the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), a cooperative for artists and artisans whose objective was to produce high quality products that eliminated the distinction between high and low art. The Wiener Werkstätte was based on the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, with its critique of industrial labor and its emphasis on the designer as craftsman, joy in labor, and the integration of art into everyday life. The postcards were among the Wiener Werkstätte’s most popular products.
On December 3 the museum opens Esther Shalev-Gerz: Describing Labor, commissioned and organized by The Wolfsonian and featuring original work by this internationally renowned artist. The worker, once the heroic image of class-consciousness and national character, was pictured widely in the period of the Great Depression, the Soviet Revolution, and the two World Wars but has disappeared from the contemporary visual landscape. Shalev-Gerz utilizes video, audio, photography, and text to give voice to these otherwise silent figures, encouraging a new awareness of the human endeavor that shapes our daily realities.