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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STATE MUSEUM TO HOST RUSSEL WRIGHT EXHIBITION, OPENS MAY 4
Albany, New York -- 04/29/2013
An exhibition featuring the work and philosophy of renowned industrial designer Russel Wright will open May 4, 2013 at the New York State Museum. Russel Wright: The Nature of Design explores Wright's career from the 1920s through the 1970s and features approximately 40 objects along with photographs and design sketches.
On display through December 31 in the Crossroads Gallery, the exhibit was first organized by and presented at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz from August 2012 to March 2013. The exhibit includes objects such as wood serving bowls and spun aluminum trays designed Pre-World War II as well as Wright’s more experimental and innovative Post-World War II designs, including earthenware plates, bowls, pitchers, and vases.
The exhibit also includes a video with images created by Wright to explain his conception of Manitoga, his final home and estate and now a national historic landmark, located in Garrison, New York. Built into an abandoned stone quarry, the modernist home and 75 acre garden was Wright’s most inventive and holistic realization of his philosophy and goal to live in harmony with nature and good design.
Russel Wright (1904-1976) revolutionized the American home and the way people lived there. His inexpensive, mass-produced dinnerware, furniture, appliances and textiles were not only visually and technically innovative, but were also the tools to achieve his concept of "easier living," a unique American lifestyle that was gracious yet contemporary and informal.
Collaborating with his wife Mary Wright, Russel disseminated his designs and ideas in exhibitions, books, articles, advertisements, radio interviews, and demonstration rooms in department stores. In all these enterprises, Russel and Mary converted his name and signature into a recognizable trademark on par with major manufacturers. They invented lifestyle marketing centered on a compelling persona, paving the way for such lifestyle interpreters as Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren.
The exhibit is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue featuring essays by co-curators Donald Albrecht and Dianne Pierce and by Kerry Dean Carso, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Art History at the State University of New York at New Paltz. The catalogue also includes images and text from Russel Wright’s 1960 slide talk, which promoted his philosophy of modern living and the importance of maintaining a close relationship to nature.
Donald Albrecht has curated exhibitions that have ranged from overviews of cultural trends, including World War II and the American Dream and Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design for the National Building Museum, the National Design Triennial for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and Paris/New York: Design Fashion Culture, 1925–1940 for the Museum of the City of New York. Albrecht teaches in the Masters Program in the Decorative Arts at the Cooper-Hewitt and lectures frequently about architecture and design at other institutions. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.
Dianne Pierce is the former Museum Education Director at Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center. She is an adjunct faculty member, teaching the history of design, in the Department of Art History at the State University of New York at New Paltz as well as faculty at Parsons The New School of Design in New York.
Photos from the exhibit are available at: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/PRkit/2013/wright/index.html.
The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.