Utopia & Reality: modernity in Sweden 1900-60

Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts


Around 200 works—architectural drawings and models, painting, sculpture, graphic and industrial design, crafts, photography and film—exemplifying the various styles to emerge in Sweden this century and including some of the most popular and influential designs of the last few decades are on view in this show (until 16 June). Swedish modern architecture had a distinct social and political thrust: instead of reserving the snazzy modernist designs they gleaned from Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus for exclusive buildings, Swedish architects such as Sven Markelius put them to use on public buildings, associating themselves with social democracy and the welfare state. Markelius who, along with other architects also delved into furniture design, was among those to introduce the world to tubular-steel furniture at the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition. But Sweden’s greatest contribution to furniture design is probably the bentwood pieces of Bruno Mathsson, which are well represented here. Swedish glass designers also made groundbreaking innovations, such as the works produced by the Orrefors Glasbruk at Orrefors, Småland, under master glassmaker Knut Bergqvist and designers Simon Gate and Edward Hald. Curated by Cecilia Widenheim of the Moderna Museet, Stockholm in collaboration with Eva Rudberg of the Arkitekturmuseet and Cilla Robach of the Nationalmuseum Stockholm. Left, Sven Jarlas, “Under the Skuru Bridge”, 1933.


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