Guest Curators: Maria Cecilia Loschiavo dos Santos, Ana Elena Mallet, and Jorge F. Rivas Pérez
February 11 to May 16, 2015 (Americas Society, New York)
Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940–1978 examines how design, one of the most innovative chapters in the history of Latin American modernism, transformed the domestic landscape in a period marked by major stylistic developments and social political changes. Sheltered from the overall destruction and disarray of World War II, many Latin American countries (specifically Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela) entered an expansive period of economic growth in the late 1940s through the 1950s, which resulted in the modernization of major cities.
Although each country had unique cultural and historic particularities, modern ideals were fervently embraced as a vehicle for progress. The slogan “50 years of progress in five,” used in the 1950s by President Juscelino Kubitschek, best described Brazil’s national agenda for fast economic growth to illustrate the urgency of change across the region. Modernism was officially embraced as the suitable style for these nations and design was endorsed as an agent for development. By encouraging “a modern way of living” as an ideology, the desarrollista governments promoted the widespread adoption of their modernization goals.
Image credit: Sérgio Rodrigues (Brazilian, b. 1927). Mole armchair, 1957. Wood and leather, 32 ½ x 40 x 29 in. Collection: R & Company, New York.