This exhibition occurred in the past. The archival exhibition summary below describes the exhibition as it was conceived while on view.
St. Louis Modern explores a dynamic period in our region’s history (1935–65) when St. Louis–based architects, artists, and designers—made innovative contributions to midcentury modern design.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Eero Saarinen’s modernist masterpiece, the Gateway Arch, the exhibition features more than 150 modern design objects and artworks drawn from the Museum’s collection and more than 30 museums and private lenders around the country. Many of the works in the exhibition will be shown for the first time.
Organized chronologically, St. Louis Modern traces the emergence of design in the early 20th century through an exploration of several themes: machine-age, aerodynamic design; mass-market design; the influence of architects and tastemakers; embellishments; and Scandinavian design.
The exhibition will celebrate 30 years of modernism in the built environment of St. Louis, including significant architectural commissions, public sculpture, murals, and stained glass. It will feature both rare and renowned examples of mass-produced designs that were popularized through exhibitions at St. Louis department stores and museums—exhibitions that promoted ideas about good design (notably simplicity and functionality) and helped make designed products more accessible to St. Louis consumers. Architects, artists and designers featured in the exhibition include Frederick Dunn, Charles and Ray Eames, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson and Dorothy Liebes.
Modern design’s embrace of innovative materials and streamlined styling is captured by one particularly exciting object, a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette. Representing the first model year that was manufactured in St. Louis, the Corvette underscores the key role of the automobile in the growth of modern suburbia in postwar St. Louis.
St. Louis Modern is organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation, and by BMO Harris Bank. Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
The exhibition is curated by David Conradsen, the Grace L. Brumbaugh and Richard E. Brumbaugh Associate Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, and Genevieve Cortinovis, research assistant.