Bentwood and beyond: the Bard Gallery examines the Aaltos’ dual design practice

Bentwood and beyond: the Bard Gallery examines the Aaltos’ dual design practice

Artek has long been a household name in the world of design, known best for their stacking bentwood stools – an emblem of modern creativity. Turns out, there’s more than meets the eye to the Finnish design company, the work of which spans art, architecture, interiors and beyond.

Opening today, the Bard Graduate Center Gallery is hosting an exhibition aiming to shed some light on the broad range of work done by the studio, as well as the shared practice of working pair Alvar Aalto and Aino Marsio-Aalto. The exhibition, titled ’Artek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World’, is curated by gallery director Nina Stritzler-Levine, and writer, architect and professor Juhani Pallasmaa.

The result of a two-year-long research project spearheaded by Stritzler-Levine, the show offers an intimate glimpse into the two architects’ dual practices, curating over 200 works from the Artek and Alvar Aalto archives in Jyväskylä, Finland, as well as the Aalto family archives. Pieces range from architectural drawings to paintings, glassware to textiles – many never before placed on public view.

Looking beyond the bentwood furniture for which the firm is predominantly known, the show examines the studio’s vast array of under-recognised and diverse work. It marks the first exhibition in the United States to survey Artek, as well as to focus on the Aaltos themselves. Particularly, it affords a long overdue recognition of Marsio-Aalto’s primary role at the firm, bringing many of her hitherto unknown contributions to the fore.

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