Posts tagged "play"
Ladislav Sutnar. Build the Town building blocks. 1940-43
In keeping with his commitment to modernist principles, Sutnar believed in the cognitive power of a visual language rooted in elemental shapes and colors. Building entire cities with blocks, he believed, would give children an awareness of form and structure that made direct reference to the simple, geometric volumes of functionalist architecture, while also giving a sense of the functional and aesthetic interrelationships between different types of buildings in the modern city. He described these nonverbal, object lessons, taught through play, as “mental vitamins necessary for the right development of a child.” The prototype sets seen here were never put into full production.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Ladislav Sutnar. Build the Town building blocks. 1940-43

In keeping with his commitment to modernist principles, Sutnar believed in the cognitive power of a visual language rooted in elemental shapes and colors. Building entire cities with blocks, he believed, would give children an awareness of form and structure that made direct reference to the simple, geometric volumes of functionalist architecture, while also giving a sense of the functional and aesthetic interrelationships between different types of buildings in the modern city. He described these nonverbal, object lessons, taught through play, as “mental vitamins necessary for the right development of a child.” The prototype sets seen here were never put into full production.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Pee-wee’s Playhouse interior. 1987
Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the children’s television show broadcast on CBS from 1986 to 1991, was modern and spectacular in every way. This quirky and ambitious Saturday-morning program was the only one of its time to incorporate live action with animation and puppetry. It was celebrated by critics and the popular press for its design elements (art direction, set design, costume design, graphics, and title design) as well as its original writing, music, and performances. The show’s dense and lively format was complemented by flat, high-key lighting and the set itself, which was primarily the work of production designer Gary Panter with Wayne White and Ric Heitzman. The playhouse, like the narrative structure it housed, is best characterized as pastiche, and a cast of regular characters was created from everyday objects. Through its unique environment and rich episode content, the show enraptured young viewers while shaking up conventional ideas about domesticity, consumerism, friendship, and imagination. Paul Reubens (Pee-wee) intended it to be educational, entertaining, and artistic. “I’m just trying to illustrate that it’s okay to be different,” he explained. “Not that it’s good, not that it’s bad, but that it’s all right. Tell kids to have a good time … be creative … question things.”
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Pee-wee’s Playhouse interior. 1987

Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the children’s television show broadcast on CBS from 1986 to 1991, was modern and spectacular in every way. This quirky and ambitious Saturday-morning program was the only one of its time to incorporate live action with animation and puppetry. It was celebrated by critics and the popular press for its design elements (art direction, set design, costume design, graphics, and title design) as well as its original writing, music, and performances. The show’s dense and lively format was complemented by flat, high-key lighting and the set itself, which was primarily the work of production designer Gary Panter with Wayne White and Ric Heitzman. The playhouse, like the narrative structure it housed, is best characterized as pastiche, and a cast of regular characters was created from everyday objects. Through its unique environment and rich episode content, the show enraptured young viewers while shaking up conventional ideas about domesticity, consumerism, friendship, and imagination. Paul Reubens (Pee-wee) intended it to be educational, entertaining, and artistic. “I’m just trying to illustrate that it’s okay to be different,” he explained. “Not that it’s good, not that it’s bad, but that it’s all right. Tell kids to have a good time … be creative … question things.”

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Sentry puppet from König Hirsch (The stag king). 1918
The basic elements of Taeuber-Arp’s puppets, turned pieces of wood, are round and sculptural, linked by ring-bolt joints that allow movement in many directions. Puppets were a traditional and popular art form that appeared in many avant-garde circles between the world wars, some growing out of studio projects and others conceived within groups of friends as both a playful diversion and an outlet for new ideas on design, choreography, and performance. Taeuber-Arp, the only woman on the committee of the avant-garde Swiss Puppet Theater, established in 1918, was able to draw on her experience as a performer at Dada soirees and as a dancer at Rudolf von Laban’s school of movement in Zurich.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Sentry puppet from König Hirsch (The stag king). 1918

The basic elements of Taeuber-Arp’s puppets, turned pieces of wood, are round and sculptural, linked by ring-bolt joints that allow movement in many directions. Puppets were a traditional and popular art form that appeared in many avant-garde circles between the world wars, some growing out of studio projects and others conceived within groups of friends as both a playful diversion and an outlet for new ideas on design, choreography, and performance. Taeuber-Arp, the only woman on the committee of the avant-garde Swiss Puppet Theater, established in 1918, was able to draw on her experience as a performer at Dada soirees and as a dancer at Rudolf von Laban’s school of movement in Zurich.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Lyonel Feininger. The Kin-der-Kids from Chicago Sunday Tribune. April 29, 1906
The modern mass-circulation comic appeared in Europe and the United States in the 1890s, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that comics and animation–two art forms initially created for children–began to have a profound impact on modern visual culture. Feininger and Winsor McCay, the two great illustrators of American comics in the opening decades of the twentieth century, conceived of the comic strip as full-page layouts with radical and inventive experiments in scale, sequence, and format.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Lyonel Feininger. The Kin-der-Kids from Chicago Sunday Tribune. April 29, 1906

The modern mass-circulation comic appeared in Europe and the United States in the 1890s, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that comics and animation–two art forms initially created for children–began to have a profound impact on modern visual culture. Feininger and Winsor McCay, the two great illustrators of American comics in the opening decades of the twentieth century, conceived of the comic strip as full-page layouts with radical and inventive experiments in scale, sequence, and format.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Bruno Taut. Dandanah – The Fairy Palace. 1919-20.
Following World War I, at a time of severe material shortages and inactivity in the building industries, Bruno Taut and a Berlin group of radical German architects and artists turned to more modest undertakings, such as the design of toys. Taut’s colored glass blocks recalled in microcosm the prismatic form of his Glass House pavilion at the 1914 Werkbund exhibition in Cologne. They allowed children to build free of real-world constraints, relying instead on imagination and artistic intuition. The simple shapes could be reconfigured endlessly (the set came with six colored sheets showing a variety of assemblages), and this malleability fit with Taut’s conception of the new spirit in architecture as dynamic and mobile.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Bruno Taut. Dandanah – The Fairy Palace. 1919-20.

Following World War I, at a time of severe material shortages and inactivity in the building industries, Bruno Taut and a Berlin group of radical German architects and artists turned to more modest undertakings, such as the design of toys. Taut’s colored glass blocks recalled in microcosm the prismatic form of his Glass House pavilion at the 1914 Werkbund exhibition in Cologne. They allowed children to build free of real-world constraints, relying instead on imagination and artistic intuition. The simple shapes could be reconfigured endlessly (the set came with six colored sheets showing a variety of assemblages), and this malleability fit with Taut’s conception of the new spirit in architecture as dynamic and mobile.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack. Optical Color-Mixer. 1924
Experience with toy design, often as a result of idealistic attempts to bring up their own children in a new and creative manner, was common among staff and students of the progressive Bauhaus school. These spinning disks, also known as the Optische Farbmischer (Optical color mixer), adhered to the emerging Bauhaus aesthetic of simple geometric forms and unmodulated primary colors, which was due in part to a method of teaching inspired by the kindergarten movement. Toys like the spinning disks and Alma Siedhoff-Buscher’s construction blocks sold well, providing an important source of income for the new institution.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack. Optical Color-Mixer. 1924

Experience with toy design, often as a result of idealistic attempts to bring up their own children in a new and creative manner, was common among staff and students of the progressive Bauhaus school. These spinning disks, also known as the Optische Farbmischer (Optical color mixer), adhered to the emerging Bauhaus aesthetic of simple geometric forms and unmodulated primary colors, which was due in part to a method of teaching inspired by the kindergarten movement. Toys like the spinning disks and Alma Siedhoff-Buscher’s construction blocks sold well, providing an important source of income for the new institution.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Gioco delle 3 oche (Game of the 3 geese). 1944
Toy companies in both Axis and Allied countries produced board games, puzzles, and toys that made World War II seem fun. Italian children could play Gioco delle 3 oche, an allegorical game depicting the enemy as silly geese ready for slaughter.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Gioco delle 3 oche (Game of the 3 geese). 1944

Toy companies in both Axis and Allied countries produced board games, puzzles, and toys that made World War II seem fun. Italian children could play Gioco delle 3 oche, an allegorical game depicting the enemy as silly geese ready for slaughter.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Joaquín Torres -García. Village with Numbers. 1928
Torres-García complemented his sculptural practice of experimental abstractions in wood with the design of play objects, which he viewed as an equally valid form of artistic expression. The creative potential inherent in such toys is present in his Numerario, which allowed the child to order, stack, disassemble, and reassemble the buildings, bridges, and other elements of a village streetscape. In such construction toys, Torres-García laid particular stress on the importance of supplying the child with abstract components rather than readymade or fully constructed copies of objects found in daily life.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Joaquín Torres -García. Village with Numbers. 1928

Torres-García complemented his sculptural practice of experimental abstractions in wood with the design of play objects, which he viewed as an equally valid form of artistic expression. The creative potential inherent in such toys is present in his Numerario, which allowed the child to order, stack, disassemble, and reassemble the buildings, bridges, and other elements of a village streetscape. In such construction toys, Torres-García laid particular stress on the importance of supplying the child with abstract components rather than readymade or fully constructed copies of objects found in daily life.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Nigel Henderson. Untitled, from Chisenhale Road Series. 1951
In 1953 architects Peter and Alison Smithson collaborated with photographer Nigel Henderson on this influential visual statement of their new approach to urban planning. As seen in this mapping of urban experience—from house to street, and district to city—it is children at play who embody the Smithsons’ guiding principle of social connectivity that underpins the concept of a “cluster city”. The Smithsons were critical of the prevailing modernist orthodoxy of the rational, zoned city; instead they searched for new architectural equivalents to the more intuitive unfolding of spatial relationships that they observed in children’s play. Their approach brought them together with Aldo van Eyck and other dissenting architects within CIAM.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Nigel Henderson. Untitled, from Chisenhale Road Series. 1951

In 1953 architects Peter and Alison Smithson collaborated with photographer Nigel Henderson on this influential visual statement of their new approach to urban planning. As seen in this mapping of urban experience—from house to street, and district to city—it is children at play who embody the Smithsons’ guiding principle of social connectivity that underpins the concept of a “cluster city”. The Smithsons were critical of the prevailing modernist orthodoxy of the rational, zoned city; instead they searched for new architectural equivalents to the more intuitive unfolding of spatial relationships that they observed in children’s play. Their approach brought them together with Aldo van Eyck and other dissenting architects within CIAM.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Lucienne Bloch. Study for The Cycle of a Woman’s Life. 1935
Bloch’s design for a mural in a high-rise women’s jail in downtown Manhattan made a bid for the heartstrings and possible reform of its audience with a diverse group of children innocently playing marbles on a city sidewalk. This scene was conceived as part of The Cycle of a Woman’s Life, a series of murals whose theme was approved by the inmates themselves. On such depictions the New York Times commented in 1938, “The first leitmotif that strikes the observer is a preoccupation with the quieter, gayer sides of life in this city… . Children, trees, dogs and flowers squeeze in everywhere, like grass cracking through cement.”
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Lucienne Bloch. Study for The Cycle of a Woman’s Life. 1935

Bloch’s design for a mural in a high-rise women’s jail in downtown Manhattan made a bid for the heartstrings and possible reform of its audience with a diverse group of children innocently playing marbles on a city sidewalk. This scene was conceived as part of The Cycle of a Woman’s Life, a series of murals whose theme was approved by the inmates themselves. On such depictions the New York Times commented in 1938, “The first leitmotif that strikes the observer is a preoccupation with the quieter, gayer sides of life in this city… . Children, trees, dogs and flowers squeeze in everywhere, like grass cracking through cement.”

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Jessie M. King. “The Frog Prince” nursery wall panel. 1910
The design of children’s toys and books was an area in which many women affiliated with the Arts and Crafts movement excelled, chief among them King, who attended the Glasgow School of Art, where she later taught bookbinding, embroidery, and ceramic decoration. Her childlike vision and understated technical brilliance in many mediums was widely publicized in the new international arts magazines started in the 1890s and early 1900s. By using fairy-tale iconography throughout her work, King encouraged children to enter and share her make-believe world.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Jessie M. King. “The Frog Prince” nursery wall panel. 1910

The design of children’s toys and books was an area in which many women affiliated with the Arts and Crafts movement excelled, chief among them King, who attended the Glasgow School of Art, where she later taught bookbinding, embroidery, and ceramic decoration. Her childlike vision and understated technical brilliance in many mediums was widely publicized in the new international arts magazines started in the 1890s and early 1900s. By using fairy-tale iconography throughout her work, King encouraged children to enter and share her make-believe world.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Karel Appel. Front cover from Frie Kunstnere, Volume 3 by Christian Dotremont. 1950
Van Eyck was closely associated with CoBrA, an international avant-garde group that drew inspiration from children’s drawings and the idea of play as a creative and cultural force. (The group’s name derived from the first letters of the members’ home cities of Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam.) Van Eyck’s playful design for the installation of the first CoBrA exhibition, held in 1949, broke with conventional display techniques and adopted a child’s perspective in the display of drawings and prints on low rectangular blocks. CoBrA’s magazine, Frie Kunstnere, featured many artworks both inspired by and produced by children.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Karel Appel. Front cover from Frie Kunstnere, Volume 3 by Christian Dotremont. 1950

Van Eyck was closely associated with CoBrA, an international avant-garde group that drew inspiration from children’s drawings and the idea of play as a creative and cultural force. (The group’s name derived from the first letters of the members’ home cities of Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam.) Van Eyck’s playful design for the installation of the first CoBrA exhibition, held in 1949, broke with conventional display techniques and adopted a child’s perspective in the display of drawings and prints on low rectangular blocks. CoBrA’s magazine, Frie Kunstnere, featured many artworks both inspired by and produced by children.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Capsela 700 construction set. 1978
The Cold War years were marked by intense international competition in science and technology. Toys that could spark interest in these areas in young scientists carried serious weight with forward-thinking adults, and educational kits such as Capsela became increasingly popular at home and in schools. This modular building toy, originally designed and manufactured in Japan in 1975, was advertised as “the construction set of tomorrow.” With it, children could combine plastic capsules with electric motors, gears, propellers, wheels, and pumps to create real and imaginary vehicles, many of which resembled instruments appropriate for lunar deployment.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Capsela 700 construction set. 1978

The Cold War years were marked by intense international competition in science and technology. Toys that could spark interest in these areas in young scientists carried serious weight with forward-thinking adults, and educational kits such as Capsela became increasingly popular at home and in schools. This modular building toy, originally designed and manufactured in Japan in 1975, was advertised as “the construction set of tomorrow.” With it, children could combine plastic capsules with electric motors, gears, propellers, wheels, and pumps to create real and imaginary vehicles, many of which resembled instruments appropriate for lunar deployment.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Aldo van Eyck. Drawing of sandpits, somersault frames, climbing frames, play tables, and climbing mountains. 1960
Van Eyck, like his friends Peter and Alison Smithson, was fascinated by the relationship between the child and the postwar city. He joined the Department of City Development at Amsterdam Public Works in 1947, and in the decades that followed he designed more than seven hundred playgrounds for the city. These spaces, often created from derelict lots, incorporated sandpits, metal climbing frames, stepping stones, and small concrete divots to collect rainwater in abstract compositions. Van Eyck, who considered physical recreation an important part of children’s development, defined areas for free-form activity without being closed off from the surrounding community.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Aldo van Eyck. Drawing of sandpits, somersault frames, climbing frames, play tables, and climbing mountains. 1960

Van Eyck, like his friends Peter and Alison Smithson, was fascinated by the relationship between the child and the postwar city. He joined the Department of City Development at Amsterdam Public Works in 1947, and in the decades that followed he designed more than seven hundred playgrounds for the city. These spaces, often created from derelict lots, incorporated sandpits, metal climbing frames, stepping stones, and small concrete divots to collect rainwater in abstract compositions. Van Eyck, who considered physical recreation an important part of children’s development, defined areas for free-form activity without being closed off from the surrounding community.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Antonio Rubino. Il bimbo cattivo (The bad child), bedroom panel. 1924
Rubino’s taste for the grotesque, the bizarre, and the fantastic is evident in the surreal form of this decorative panel on the theme of “the bad child,” which was part of a unique children’s room. A self-taught artist best known as a children’s illustrator and founder of one of the most influential children’s magazines in Italy, Corriere dei piccoli, Rubino is also known for his transgressive approach to design.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Antonio Rubino. Il bimbo cattivo (The bad child), bedroom panel. 1924

Rubino’s taste for the grotesque, the bizarre, and the fantastic is evident in the surreal form of this decorative panel on the theme of “the bad child,” which was part of a unique children’s room. A self-taught artist best known as a children’s illustrator and founder of one of the most influential children’s magazines in Italy, Corriere dei piccoli, Rubino is also known for his transgressive approach to design.

Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild

Get your daily dose of design from the MoMA exhibition Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000. During each of the 100 days of the exhibition we will showcase an object featured in the show.

To find out more about Century of the Child visit MoMA.org/centuryofthechild.

Purchase the exhibition catalogue on MoMAStore.org or get the digital edition for the iPad on iTunes.

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