Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style will be the first exhibition in the United States not only to showcase the seminal work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928) but to locate his production in relation to the larger circle of designers and craftspeople with which he shared sources, stylistic features, and patrons.
In the final decades of the nineteenth century, the Glasgow Style emerged as the only manifestation of Art Nouveau in Britain, establishing the progressive city—a crucial hub of the British Empire—as Scotland’s cultural capital. Central to this development was the Glasgow School of Art (GSA), which fostered an ambitious and radical brand of intellectualism, liberating students, teachers, and their colleagues to experiment with materials and forms in a highly collaborative environment. The result was a rich vocabulary of sensuous, attenuated, unconventional forms that both reflected and shaped contemporaneous trends in architecture and design throughout Europe and the United States. At the heart of this strikingly modern stylistic collective was The Four—the famed architect-designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh; his future wife, Margaret Macdonald; Margaret’s younger sister, Frances Macdonald; and Frances’s future husband, James Herbert McNair—who met while students at the GSA in 1893.
Vital themes will include the influences, stylistic attributes and impact of the Glasgow Style, key contributors to its development, the GSA’s support and encouragement of women artists, and, much as the school’s Technical Art Studios did more than 125 years ago, the exhibition will emphasize the importance of the physical process of making. The exhibition’s approximately 170 works, drawn from Glasgow’s most important public and private collections, will include iconic designs for, and work from, the city’s famous tearooms, including Mackintosh’s first high-backed chair, light-fittings and paneling sections; studies and finished works in a variety of media by talented GSA students, teachers, friends and associates such as Jessie Marion King, Ann Macbeth, and Talwin Morris; and several rarely exhibited watercolors.
Celebrating the legacy of the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth, this exhibition will reveal the relationship between the artist most closely aligned with the Glasgow Style and the city of Glasgow, represented through the extraordinary wealth found in the city’s civic collections.
For booking information, contact Kirstin Purtich at email@example.com or 212.988.7700 ext. 226.
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).
A touring exhibition co-organized by Glasgow Museums and the American Federation of Arts.