a forgotten designer

Tea-horns-crop_jpg_600x603_q85Martin Filler at the NYRB:

Among the dozen useful masterpieces chosen by the US Postal Service for its 2011 series of stamps honoring American industrial design pioneers is the Normandie water pitcher (1935), a sleek chromium-plated vessel whose prow-like form echoes that of the then-new French ocean liner for which it was named. This stunning work, manufactured by the Revere Copper and Brass company, evokes the glamour of interwar transatlantic travel with a sculptural purity worthy of Brancusi, and is rightly included in numerous design history books and museum collections. Yet until now the general public has known next to nothing about its creator, Peter Muller-Munk.

That lapse is finally redressed by “Silver to Steel: The Modern Designs of Peter Muller-Munk,” an illuminating exhibition at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art. It vindicates the personal crusade of the Miami-based design historian Jewel Stern, an intrepid researcher of this overlooked figure and the co-curator of the show.

Stern is particularly interested in the transmission of modern design ideas from Europe to the United States, which in previous books she has revealed to be a far more complex and dispersed process than had been thought. Her diligence has paid off handsomely in this fascinating survey, and confirms the unjustly neglected Muller-Munk’s rightful place in the top tier with his much better known American contemporaries Donald Deskey, Henry Dreyfuss, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, and Walter Dorwin Teague.

more here.