"Mid-Century," the title of a survey of furniture design at the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art, is slightly misleading. The exhibition covers not one but two half-century marks—1850 and 1950—and all the years in between. And what years they were! Beginning with Gustav Stickley's rustic wood furniture and concluding with Charles and Ray Eames's futuristic wire-and-fabric chairs, the classics of modernism are present and accounted for. But expect some surprises, such as a charming Gothic Revival dessert plate (left) by A.W.N. Pugin. The curators have placed these objects within the context of the era's social and political movements, making this an enlightening walk through 100 years of history.
"Mid-Century: Good Design in Europe and America, 1850–1950," Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, through September 5; .
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