In the 1920s and 1930s a new aesthetic emerged in the United States, based on the principles of the Bauhaus in Germany: rational, functional design devoid of ornament and without reference to historical styles. Alfred H. Barr Jr., founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, and Philip Johnson, director of its architecture department, were the leading proponents of the modern approach.
Using as their laboratories both MoMA and their own apartments in New York, Barr and Johnson experimented with new ideas in museum ideology, extending the scope beyond painting and sculpture to include design and film; with exhibitions of ordinary objects elevated to art by their elegant design; and with installations in dramatically lit galleries with smooth, white walls.
Partners in Design chronicles their collaboration, placing it in the larger context of the avant garde in New York and the dissemination of their ideas across the United States through the MoMA traveling exhibition program. The book accompanies an exhibition opening at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in April 2016 and traveling to the Neues Museum in Weimar, Germany, and the Davis Museum at Wellesley College.