For more than half a century, the term Danish Modern has come to define mid-twentieth-century design by Danish designers and architects, much of it still in production. This lecture focuses on the theoretical underpinnings that influenced many of the prominent Danish designers, such as Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, and Arne Jacobsen. The specifically Danish reading of Modernism discloses a resistance to the machine aesthetic emanating from the German Bauhaus, coupled with historical and cultural factors driving the Danish response. Danish Modern allowed aesthetics to flow more naturally from design and craft, rather than permitting aesthetics to be driven solely by concept. The avant-garde theorist and social commentator Poul Henningsen gave specific voice to the Danish response to the clashing forces of Modernism and tradition. Numerous slides will illustrate the Danish designers' capacity to humanize what had been standardized and to reconfigure traditional materials in nontraditional ways.
Mark Mussari (Ph.D., Scandinavian Studies, University of Washington, 1999) has written and lectured extensively on art and design and has recently translated books on Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner. This lecture is co-sponsored by the Nordic Heritage Museum. You can read more about the upcoming exhibition at the museum in our recent news item.