The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity this week opened their eighth exhibit, titled “Steinberg Meets the Eameses.” The exhibit and catalog explores the friendship between design icons Ray and Charles Eames and artist and humorist Saul Steinberg by means of a specific collaboration in the summertime of 1950. The exhibit coincides with the launch of the newly recreated Eames Fiberglass Armchair with Steinberg’s Cat by Vitra and Herman Miller. The Institute retains two enchanting authentic Steinberg painted chairs within the Eames Assortment.
This exhibit is the story of a “botched Hollywood project that led Steinberg to the
West Coast and the way he then got here involved with the Eameses.” The works emerged from a collaborative day spent on the Eames Workplace at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, California—together with the chair with cat and one other chair painted with a nude determine (each stay within the Institute’s holdings). It additionally consists of numerous works that resulted from their connection, together with an officious, however fully illegible diploma Steinberg wittily bestowed on Charles Eames (as a result of he by no means completed faculty), and images taken by Eames of Steinberg’s drawings being projected onto Steinberg’s spouse, Hedda Sterne, and Ray Eames.
The Eames-Steinberg artifacts are exemplary of the generally ignored marriage between wit and modernity. I requested Llisa Demetrios, the Eames’s youngest granddaughter and the Institute’s Chief Curator, to touch upon the connection between these paradigms of modernism and her relationship with the work, particularly by means of the lens of the exhibit.
(All photographs courtesy of The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity and © Eames Workplace, LLC.)
The Eames Chair and Steinberg’s drawings are icons of recent wit and performance. What number of of those are there, and are all of them on show?
The Eames Institute retains the 2 authentic Steinberg painted chairs— together with the chair with cat, and the opposite with the nude ﬁgure— within the Eames Assortment. The Institute additionally has two great faux diplomas that Steinberg created for Charles, who had studied structure, however didn’t ﬁnish his diploma. As a grandchild, they regarded good-looking and ofﬁcial. After which as I acquired older and regarded extra carefully, I noticed that the handwriting didn’t really say any phrases— which made me snicker.
Steinberg had many mates within the modernist orbit (I’m engaged on a undertaking about Leo Lionni who gave him one in every of his earliest promoting jobs. And Chermyeff and Geismar had his work prominently displayed within the ofﬁce). Was he certainly a good friend of the Eameses? What was their relationship?
The intersection of Steinberg’s concepts and the way they overlapped with the designs of my grandparents is unbelievable and exquisite. Each floor was a doable canvas from chair to ﬂoor. I keep in mind watching the Eames brief ﬁlm Touring Boy, which has a background of drawings by Steinberg. On the Eames Ofﬁce, I’d like to see the Steinberg chairs within the prototype space, framed posters, and marvelous diplomas on the wall, or the most recent New Yorker out on a desk with a canopy by Steinberg.
Was this an impromptu act, or did the Eameses ask him to do the drawings?
My grandparents and Steinberg have been continually iterating on concepts and exploring supplies whereas conveying concepts. Charles stated, “Crucial factor is that you just love what you’re doing, and the second that you’re not afraid of the place your subsequent concept will lead.” They have been all very hands-on and discovered by doing. My grandparents typically talked about “[taking] your pleasure severely.” With Steinberg on that day on the ofﬁce when he drew on the chairs, I believe all of them took their pleasure severely.
They have to be fragile and definitely priceless— have you ever been tempted to sit down in them?
As a grandchild, I didn’t need to sit on the chairs once I visited the ofﬁce. I simply liked them— particularly the one with the cat trying so peacefully nestled into the curve of the chair. As we speak, as a curator, I notice that it will need to have been a unprecedented day on the ofﬁce when Steinberg drew on the chairs and simply wished that I had been there to see that spark of artistic collaboration occur!