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How Latin America Contributed to Mid-Century Modern Design

March 27, 2015

What we think we know on the subject of mid-century modern design may be about to change. As a new exhibition reveals, the movement was not limited to the west. At the time, Latin America was home to a lesser-known but influential group of designers who poured their feverish creativity, and exhilaration at the advance of modernity, into ceramics, textiles and furniture — objects now capturing the attention of international collectors.



The Moderno show, at New York’s Americas Society, brings together postwar pieces by designers from Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela, including some being exhibited for the first time. It is the “last great discovery” of a huge volume of mid-century design work, suggests Zesty Meyers, co-founder of R & Company, a New York gallery that shows and sells contemporary designs, including those of Sérgio Rodrigues, Joaquim Tenreiro, and others featured in the Moderno exhibition.

Meyers says Latin American designers, unlike those in Europe and the US, were largely commissioned by local families, rather than big companies, and as a result their legacy has been largely hidden from view — it is only now that the world is starting to learn about them. “These pieces were being done for individuals,” he adds. “That’s key to what makes them interesting.”

What the show uncovers is a group of designers intent on taking principles learned from the Bauhaus and elsewhere in avant-garde design and applying them using local materials, tying in ancient Aztec and Inca influences alongside traditional folk motifs....

Read the full art review here.