Going out of Style: 400 Years of Changing Tastes in Furniture

June 21–September 30, 2007
Decorative Arts Gallery

The study of historic design has largely focused on individual styles when at the height of their popularity. Fashions in decline, however, often inspire more colorful language from artists and critics alike. More than just old-fashioned, styles on their way "out" were often seen as immoral, low-class, connected to an out-of-favor political regime, or simply ugly. This exhibition will pair exemplars of specific styles with written critiques that reveal more than just the whimsy of fluctuating tastes but also important shifts in aesthetic and cultural theory over four centuries of European settlement in America. Audio recordings produced by Stephen Wetzel featuring the voices of Robert Jorge, Flora Coker, and Ivan Gaskell.

This exhibition is curated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Sarah Fayen, assistant curator at the Chipstone Foundation and adjunct assistant curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
  • Attributed to John Henry Belter, Sofa, ca. 1850. Bequest of Mary Jane Rayniak in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph G. Rayniak M1987.16. Photo by Larry Sanders.