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Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Charles Eames / 1907–78, Ray Eames / 1912–88, Molded Plywood Division, Evans Products Company / 1943–47 Venice, Elephant 1945 / Moulded plywood / Eames Collection, LLC / © The Eames Foundation. Courtesy Eames Office LLC
1 AUGUST 2013
The first Barbie doll, classic Levi Strauss 501 jeans, innovative furniture by Charles and Ray Eames and the unmistakeable film posters of Saul Bass are among the works featured in a major exhibition of mid-20th century Californian design on display at the Queensland Art Gallery later this year.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said tickets were on sale now for ‘California Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way’, open from November 2, 2013 until February 9, 2014.

‘Originating from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), this is a must-see exhibition for classic design enthusiasts,’ Mr Saines said

‘It’s fitting that we’re presenting this exhibition here in Queensland, sharing as we do with California not only the Pacific Ocean, but the climate and impulse toward outdoor living that inspired so many of these designs.’

Featuring more than 250 defining objects of the 20th century, including furniture, textiles, fashion, graphic and industrial design, ceramics, jewellery, metalwork, architectural drawings and film, the exhibition is the first to examine California’s role in shaping the design culture of the United States and in turn the rest of the world.

‘An iconic vehicle from the era, a 1936 Airstream ‘Clipper’ trailer, a literal house-on-wheels that embodies the freedom of California living, will greet visitors at the exhibition entry,’ Mr Saines said.

The exhibition explores how the California of the collective imagination was translated into a material culture that defined an era, through major innovations in materials and mass production, and California’s tradition of the ‘designer-craftsman’.

It traces the origins of a distinct modernism in the 1930s, the design breakthroughs made as World War II technologies were adapted for peacetime use, and California’s subsequent emergence as America’s epicentre of innovation in architecture and furnishing.

To illustrate how California was an ideal incubator for a specific strand of modernism, the exhibition is presented in four thematic sections that explore the ‘Shaping,’ ‘Making,’ ‘Living,’ and ‘Selling’ of the ideas and objects of California Modern.

California Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way’ was curated by Wendy Kaplan, Curator and Department Head, and Bobbye Tigerman, Associate Curator, of LACMA’s Decorative Arts and Design Department. It was first staged in 2011–12 at LACMA, the largest art museum in the western United States.

‘We are thrilled that 'California Design, 1930-1965' is traveling to the Queensland Art Gallery,’ said Ms Kaplan. 

‘So many of the exhibition's themes will resonate with an Australian audience. Both post-war California and Australia had burgeoning, newly prosperous populations, a benign climate that permitted life to be led informally and largely out of doors, and embraced design innovation and new materials. The mid-century California home became a hugely influential model for the rest of America, and indeed, the world.’

The exhibition’s global tour has also included presentations at The National Art Center in Tokyo and the Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an Up Late program including live music and talks on Friday nights from November 8 to December 13.

‘California Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way’ is supported by Gadens. Exhibition organised by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California.

Tickets are on sale now from

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Australian Cinémathèque screenings are scheduled.)