Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth (1868-1928), this is the first-ever exhibition in the United States to contextualize Mackintosh’s seminal work – architecture, design and art – in relation to the broader yet intimately connected circle of designers, architects, and craftspeople with which he shared sources, inspiration, ideas, motifs, and patrons.
Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style includes 166 remarkable works of art and design, the majority of which will be on public display for the first time in North America. Characterized by taut lines, stylized natural forms, sleek curves, and emphatic geometries, the Glasgow Style was unique – the only British response to the international Art Nouveau movement of the late 1890s – 1900s.
The first Mackintosh retrospective to tour the United States in a generation, Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style introduces audiences to some of the architect-designer-artist’s most iconic works. It presents his big, bold graphic designs for posters and his high-backed chairs for Miss Catherine Cranston’s famous Glasgow city-center artistic tearooms, in contrast with his lesser-known but equally striking experiments in textile design, interior design and the intricate watercolors he painted in the last years of his life. Offering a unique and expanded dialogue about Mackintosh’s milieu, this exhibition highlights the connections between Mackintosh, his predecessors, contemporaries, collaborators, patrons, kindred spirits, and his hometown city of Glasgow – industrial heartland of nineteenth-century Scotland. Their distinctive variant of Art Nouveau was embraced by the Glasgow School of Art and centered around its Technical Art Studios, whose full spectrum of media work displayed in the exhibition includes: books, ceramics, stained glass, glass, mosaic, metalwork, furniture, textiles, stenciling, needlework, posters, interior and architectural design. Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style presents the most comprehensive appraisal of the Glasgow Style ever assembled in the United States.
This groundbreaking showcase unpacks themes such as the international influences upon Mackintosh’s work, the Glasgow School of Art’s crucial support and encouragement of women designers at a time of great social change, and the physical processes involved in making the visionary interiors, furnishings, and decorative works of art and design that together present and define the imaginative breadth of the Glasgow Style. Works included in the exhibition are drawn from the very best of Glasgow Museum’s internationally renowned civic collections, alongside key pieces from The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, The Glasgow School of Art, and important loans from private collections.
Alison Brown is Glasgow Museums’ curator for European Decorative Arts and Design from 1880 to the present, a position she has held since 1999. Her research, publication contributions, and collection work has particular focus on art and design education and the decorative arts and design produced in Glasgow from 1860 to 1950. She has lectured internationally, and researched and curated numerous collection displays across Glasgow Museums including the Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Glasgow Style Gallery at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (opened 2006) and the architectural and educational history of Mackintosh’s Scotland Street School (opened 2001). She has been curator of the ongoing Mackintosh’s Ingram Street Tearooms research project for almost 20 years, most recently working on the conservation and restoration of Mackintosh’s largest interior, The Oak Room of 1907-08, a partnership between Glasgow Museums, the V&A Dundee, and Dundee City Council. The completed room has been lent by Glasgow City Council to the new V&A Dundee, where it opened to the public in September 2018. Alison is Vice Chair of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and editor of, and regular contributor to, the Society’s Journal.
Alison is the author of Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Making the Glasgow Style (2018, Glasgow Museums) and Glasgow’s Hidden Treasure, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Ingram Street Tearooms (2004, Glasgow Museums). She has also been a contributing author for a number of other recent publications, including Alphonse Mucha In Quest of Beauty (2015, Mucha Foundation Publishing); Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Manifesto for a New Style (2014, Kremlin Museums, Moscow); and The Flower and the Green Leaf: Glasgow School of Art in the Time of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (2009, Luath Press).
Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style is a touring exhibition co-organized by Glasgow Museums and the American Federation of Arts. The exhibition comprises works from the collections of Glasgow City Council (Museums and Collections), with loans from Scottish collections and private lenders. Support for the US national tour is provided by the Dr. Lee MacCormick Edwards Charitable Foundation.