Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline Turns 75!
It has been seventy-five years since illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans, children’s book Madeline was published. The series of books follows the adventures of a mischievous Parisian schoolgirl and has been favorite reading for several generations of readers, this writer included.
To celebrate Madeline's seventy-fifth birthday, The New York Historical Society Museum and library in New York City is exhibiting many of Bemelmans’s original illustrations created for Madeline along with drawings of the old Ritz Hotel in New York and murals from a Paris bistro. The exhibition, “Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans” runs now through October 13, 2014.
Ludwig Bemelmans, Cover Illustration for Madeline (1939).
In addition to his children’s books, Ludwig Bemelmans created cover illustrations for the leading American magazines of the Twentieth Century, designed sets for a Broadway play and is renowned for his murals in The Carlyle Hotel in New York.
For more on Ludwig Bemelmans and Madeline visit the Madeline Wed site.
Mary Blair, the Disney Artist You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
The Huffington Post recently ran an article on Disney art director, Mary Blair, whose most recognizable contribution to Disney is the design of the “It’s a Small World" ride. One of her concept illustrations is shown below.
Blair’s background in modern art and watercolors influenced her work on such productions as “Peter Pan,” “Cinderella,” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Disney’s animated productions during the mid-Twentieth century all bear her influence.
Mary Blair, It’s a Small World concept art (ca. 1966) ; Walt Disney Family Foundation; © Disney
For more on Mary Blair read the article on Huffington Post and visit the Disney Family Museum Web site,
Hans J. Wegner: Shell Chair, 1963
Hans J. Wegner, Shell Chair (1963).
While teak was Hans Wegner’s medium of choice, he did execute a few chair designs in bent plywood. His 1963 Shell Chair, also popularly referred to as “The Smiling Chair” is perhaps his most stunning bent plywood design.1
The Shell Chair was originally produced in a limited run in 1963, but never really took off. The design was shelved until 1997 when the chair saw a resurgence in popularity and remains in production today.2
Design Within Reach, (2014). Shell Chair: Product Information. http://www.dwr.com/product/shell-chair-walnut-leather-thor.do
Hive, (2014). Ch07 Lounge Chair. http://hivemodern.com/pages/product5/carl-hansen-hans-wegner-ch07-lounge-chair
Hans J. Wegner: Ox Chair, 1960
Hans J. Wenger, Ox Chair (1960).
Danish Designer Hans Wegner was admired the work of Pablo Picasso and drew inspiration for his Ox Chair from Picasso’s surrealist paintings of the 1930s. Like Wegner’s Shell Chair which was introduced in the early 1960s, the chair was not successful upon it’s first introduction. The chair, considered too difficult to manufacture during the period, was pulled from production.
In the mid-1980s, furniture-making technology had advanced to the point where the Ox Chair could be produced at a reasonable cost. The chair was reintroduced to the market in 1985 and remains popular today.
Hans J. Wenger, sitting in his Ox Chair (circa 1960). Photographer unknown.
Danish Design Store, (2014). Wegner Ox Chair. http://www.danishdesignstore.com/products/wegner-ox-chair-by-erik-jorgensen-designer-hans-j-wegner
Hans J. Wegner: The Round Chair, 1950
Hans J. Wegner, Round Chair (1950).
Unlike Hans Wegner’s earlier works, The Wishbone Chair (1949) and the Peacock Chair (1947), the Round Chair did not draw as directly from past furniture types. The Round chair, or “Round One” as Wegner always referred to it, was uniquely modern and uniquely Danish.
Most Americans’ introduction to the Round Chair occurred during the televised Kennedy/Nixon Debates in 1960. According to the chair’s manufacturer, PP Møbler the piece “was chosen mainly for its comfort and genuine quality.” After the debates Americans began to refer to the Round Chair as simply “The Chair.”
Senator John F. Kennedy sitting in Wegner’s Round Chair while preparing for a debate against Richard M. Nixon, 1960.
Hans J. Wegner: Peacock Chair, 1947
Hans J. Wegner, Peacock Chair (1947).
The Peacock Chair got its name from Danish architect and designer Finn Juhl whose first impression upon seeing the design was that the chair’s flat back slats looked like a peacock’s plumage.1
The shape of the chair is also reminiscent of British and early American Windsor Chairs.2
Windsor Armchair (ca. 1700).
1, 2. P.P. Møbler. The Peacock Chair, 1947. http://www.pp.dk/index.php?page=collection&cat=2&id=35
Hans J. Wegner: Wishbone Chair, 1949
Hans J. Wegner, Wishbone Chair with cane seat (1949).
Danish furniture designer Hans J. Wegner’s Wishbone Chair was one of a series of chair designs inspired by Chinese court chairs from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).1 The Wishbone Chairwas one of the last of the “China” series and perhaps Wegner’s most famous chair design.
Wegner’s inspiration for the Wishbone Chair:
Ming Dynasty Chair (ca. 1368-1644)
According to the Carl Hansen & Søn Web site:
Despite the chair’s straightforward appearance it takes more than 100 steps to make one. Amongst other things, the hand-woven seat consists of more than 120 meters of paper cord.
They should know. Wegner designed the Wishbone Chair for Carl Hansen & Søn in 1949, and the firm has been continuously manufacturing the chair since that time.
1. Carl Hansen & Søn, (n.d). Hans J. Wegner. http://www.carlhansen.com/designers/hans-j-wegner/
Hans J. Wegner: King of Chairs
"The chair does not exist. The good chair is a task one is never completely done with." — Hans J. Wegner
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Danish Furniture designer, Hans J. Wegner. During his prolific career Wegner designed over 500 chairs, many being the most popular and recognizable mid-century furniture.
Hans J. Wegner with models of his chairs, 1997. Photo credit: Associated Press.
In honor of Wegner’s cennteniary, the Designmuseum Danmark is running an exhibition, Just One Good Chair, highlighting the designer’s work. For those of use unable to attend the exhibition, we’ll be spotlighting one of Wegner’s iconic chair designs each day this week.
Read more about the exhibition on Fast Company’s design blog.
Photo from the “Just One Good Chair ” exhibition. Copyright 2014 Designmuseum Danmark. Photo credit: Pernille Klemp.
Majestic Theatre Building, Chicago, IL
It may be difficult to believe but when the twenty-story Majestic Theatre opened its doors in 1906 it was Chicago’s tallest building. According the a post on designslinger.com, the building designed by architect Edmund R. Krause “was also the first public auditorium built in the city following the horrific Iroquois Theatre fire that claimed the lives of over 700 matinee attendees in 1903.”
The structure originally served as a Vaudeville theatre and office space, but as Vaudeville’s popularity waned in the late 1920s the Majestic converted to a movie house. According to designslinger the building underwent another metamorphosis in 2005 when it was sold to the Nederlander Organization. The theatre underwent renovation, was renamed “Bank of America Theatre,” and is home once again tolive theatre productions. The office space portion of the building, which was sitting virtually vacant at the time of the sale, was converted into hotel rooms.
See more photos and read the entire post on designslinger.com.
Edmund R. Krause, Majestic Theatre Building (1906), Chicago, IL.