Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980
Kaj Franck (Finnish, 1911–1989), Nuutajärvi Glassworks (Finland, 1793–1988), Goblets, model KF 486, designed 1968, these examples ca. 1970–71.
March 24–July 23, 2023
Free for Members
Included with admission
Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 is the first exhibition to explore the extensive design exchanges between the United States and Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland during the 20th century. The exhibition proposes an alternative to the dominant narrative that cites Germany and central Europe as the primary influences of modern American design, presenting new scholarship on the crucial impact the Scandinavian countries and America had on one another’s material culture. From this perspective, Scandinavian Design investigates timely themes such as the contributions of immigrants to their adopted societies, the importance of international exchange, the role of cultural myths, and designing for sustainability and accessibility.
Spanning from the arrival of Nordic immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th century through the environmentally and socially conscious design movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the exhibition showcases more than 180 objects, including furniture, textiles, drawings, ceramics, jewelry, glass, and product designs that reflect the far-reaching effects of the Scandinavian and American cultural exchange. Highlights of the presentation include Paulding Farnham’s Viking Punch Bowl (ca. 1893) for Tiffany & Co. and a study for the woven hanging Festival of the May Queen (1932) by Eliel Saarinen and Loja Saarinen, which documents motifs most recently seen in the 2019 film Midsommar.
Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 is co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in collaboration with the Nationalmuseum Sweden and the Nasjonalmuseet in Norway.
Jens H. Quistgaard, Dansk Designs, “Kobenstyle” Casseroles and Pitcher, designed 1955.
Casseroles: enameled steel, (red) 4 3/4 × 10 1/4 × 7 3/4 in. (12.07 × 26.04 × 19.69 cm), (yellow) 5 1/8 × 11 1/2 × 9 in. (13.02 × 29.21 × 22.86 cm). Pitcher: enameled steel, plastic, 8 × 5 3/4; × 4 in. (20.32 × 14.61 × 10.16 cm). Private collections. Photo by John R. Glembin
Thomas Dam (Danish, 1915–1989), Dam Things Establishment (Denmark), Dammit troll doll, this example manufactured ca. 1963.
Rubber, felt, and wool, 9 1/2 × 8 × 4 in. (24.13 × 20.32 × 10.16 cm). Patricia K. Jeys, Estate of Betty J. Miller. Photo © Milwaukee Art Museum, by John R. Glembin
Eliel Saarinen (Finnish, active United States, 1873–1950), Loja Saarinen (American, b. Finland, 1879–1968), Study for Festival of the May Queen hanging, Kingswood School, 1932.
Watercolor, gouache, and pencil on tracing paper; 28 1/2 × 26 1/2 in. (72.39 × 67.31 cm). Cranbrook Art Museum (1981.12). © Eliel Saarinen® and © Loja Saarinen, photo © Cranbrook Art Museum (1981.12)
Paulding Farnham (American, 1859–1927), Tiffany & Co. (New York, New York, founded 1837), Viking Punch Bowl, ca. 1893.
Iron, silver, gold, and streaked ebony. Overall: 16 11/16 × 20 1/4 in. (42.4 × 51.4 cm). Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, purchase, The Edgar J. Kaufmann Foundation Gift, 1969 (69.4). Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, image source: Art Resource, NY
Finn Juhl (Danish, 1912–1989), manufactured by Baker Furniture Inc. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, founded 1890), Armchair, model 400-1/2, designed 1951.
Leather and walnut. 32 × 28 × 24 in. (81.28 × 71.12 × 60.96 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Dr. Lucille Cohn, M2013.69. Photo © Milwaukee Art Museum, by John R. Glembin
Lars Kinsarvik (Norwegian, 1846–1925), Drinking Horn, 1890.
Birch; 13 × 18 1/2 × 5 1/2 in. (33.02 × 46.99 × 13.97 cm). Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa (2001.037.001). Photo © Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
International Tour and Exhibition Sponsor
Terra Foundation for American Art
The Henry Luce Foundation
Nordic Culture Point
Milwaukee Art Museum’s Collectors’ Corner
National Endowment for the Arts
Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation
The Segal Family Foundation
The Anders and Birgit Segerdahl Family
John Stewig and Dick Bradley in Memory of Dick’s Mother, Karine
Exhibitions originally scheduled for 2020 at the Milwaukee Art Museum are made possible by the 2020 Visionaries.
Donna and Donald Baumgartner
John and Murph Burke
Sheldon and Marianne Lubar
Joel and Caran Quadracci
Sue and Bud Selig
Jeff and Gail Yabuki and the Yabuki Family Foundation