Interior Infatuation

Rarely has home ever been treated as merely a functional place. Form may follow function in design, yet once we are moved in, it’s the “form” that takes over and gives the place personality. From the beginning we’ve been personalizing our spaces whether they be a studio apartment ot a bedroom to an office cubicle. We’re also perpetually interested in how to make our homes better, and in finding out what our fellows homes look like on the inside. This interior infatuation has been expressed in house tours, real estate ad browsing, in commercial mediums and in art. One example is this stereoview card showing a “house beautiful” in Brooklyn. The back of the card reads, in part, “Making a home attractive is one of the finest of arts. Nothing so makes life worth while and full of richness as a well appointed place to live. We are too often satisfied with cheap prints in place of pictures, gaudy wallpaper, any kind of cheap rugs, and furniture of all sorts.” It continues… “Taste is not a natural gift. Like other virtues, it must be cultivated. To teach girls how to furnish their homes properly is the purpose of Domestic Art.” (the Pratt School in Brooklyn is mentioned).

All too rare are these glimpses into more common homes, at least in terms of income if not taste, yet there’s historically been more interest in how the rich and famous decorate. For a glimpse therein, visit the Cooper-Hewitt for “House Proud: Nineteenth-century Watercolor Interiors from the Thaw Collection.” through January 25, 2009.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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