One of the most technologically advanced and innovative lighting designers of the last quarter century, Ingo Maurer has produced a body of work described variously by critics as "astounding," "dazzling" and "poetic." The internationally acclaimed artist brings his creative energy and eclectic style to the Philadelphia Museum of Art from November 20, 2002-February 23, 2003, when installations of his work will illuminate the Museum’s 18th-century French salon as well as contemporary design gallery 170.
Maurer’s work in the Grand Salon from the Château de Draveil (about 1735)-- one of the Museum’s elegant historic interiors--coincides with Maurer’s receipt of this year's Design Excellence Award from Collab, the group of design professionals who support the Museum's contemporary design collections. Maurer will receive the award and will speak about his career on Wednesday, November 20 at 6 p.m. For ticket information, call (215) 235-SHOW.
"We are delighted that Ingo Maurer has accepted our invitation to present his work here, and we are especially excited to view his take on a wonderful 18th-century space," said Kathryn B. Hiesinger, Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700 and organizer of the exhibition. "The room itself was initially designed to let in and reflect light, with its immense mirrors and ‘French’ windows that opened onto a balcony. Maurer’s project in Philadelphia marks the first time that he has created an installation in a museum period room."
Maurer’s work ranges from feather-winged light bulbs and folded paper lights to architectural installations. He has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as well as in Rome, Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Leningrad and Barcelona. His lighting projects have included the Tel Aviv Opera House, the Munich subway system ‘Westfriedof,’ and a commissioned piece for Toronto International Airport. His most influential and copied design is his 1984 low-voltage "Ya-Ya-Ho" system, in which halogen lamps of different sizes, shapes and materials, selected by the owner, are hung on wires that stretch wall to wall.
Born in 1932 on the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance on the German-Swiss border, Maurer went to Zurich at age 15 to learn a profession after the death of his father, a fisherman. He studied as an apprentice to a typographer, worked as a freelance designer in New York and San Francisco in the early 1960s, then settled in Munich to work in a graphics studio. He began designing lamps in 1965, when he created his now legendary "Bulb" lamp. The design, which encases an unadorned light bulb within a giant replica bulb, was a surprise hit. Embraced for its kinship to works by Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol that transformed everyday objects into works of art, "Bulb" was a critical success that guided Maurer’s career path, leading to his founding a company, Design M, and his concentrating on the beauty and playful qualities of lighting.
Maurer’s recent work includes the "MaMo Nouchies," paper lights named after the three collaborative minds responsible for the design---"Ma" for Maurer; "Mo" for Dagmar Mombach, his friend and co-designer who developed a technique for dyeing the pleated paper used in the shade that gives the light a soft, quiet quality; and "Nouchies" as a phonetic tribute to legendary designer Isamu Noguchi. The irreverent Maurer has also created a plastic and metal lamp in the shape of an ostrich, complete with feather tail, and dubbed it "Bibibibi," after the sound made by the Road Runner cartoon character.
Maurer’s installation in the Museum is supported by Collab, a non-profit organization founded in 1970 that raises funds for the Philadelphia Museum of Art's modern and contemporary design collection, which now includes over 1000 works. The collection ranges from appliances and furniture to ceramics, glass, and lighting, and includes both handcrafted and mass-produced designs. Each year Collab presents its prestigious Design Excellence Award to a design professional who has made a significant contribution to the field. Past honorees include Milton Glaser, Karim Rashid, Maya Lin, Jonathan Ive, Philippe Starck with Ian Schrager, Richard Meier, Michael Graves, Robert Venturi and George Nakashima. Collab also promotes a better public understanding and appreciation of contemporary design through its educational initiatives, including sponsorship of symposia, lectures, tours, and a citywide, college-level student design competition. In honor of Maurer and his "MaMo Nouchies," students in this year’s competition will be asked to design a paper lamp.
According to Jim Fulton, chairperson of Collab, "Ingo Maurer is a classic example of the kind of individual talent long admired among the design community. We are delighted by this opportunity to both recognize his distinguished career and bring his achievements to the attention of our audience in and beyond Philadelphia."
About the Grand Salon from the Château de Draveil
The Grand Salon from the Château de Draveil, located in Gallery 260 of the Museum, was the centerpiece of a magnificent château built by Marin de la Haye at Draveil, about twelve miles south of Paris. Used as the state room for formal receptions, the salon was decorated to demonstrate his wealth and status with immense mirrors, carved and gilded paneling and plaster reliefs; it was purchased by the Museum in 1928.