|plain & simple|
|13.06.2012 - 07.10.2012|
|MAK Exhibition Hall|
The exhibition--based on the MAK
collection--THINGS. plain & simple views the principle of simplicity
from greatly diverse perspectives, not only as a premise
of aesthetics but also in the context of socio-political and
In an experiment conceived by the MAK curators, THINGS. plain & simple unites
three parallel theme exhibitions: three chief curators have planned out the
three exhibition sections to trace the aesthetics of simplicity in European and
also in Asian art history. Over the centuries, simplicity and reduction have continually
had a formative influence in virtually periodic waves on objects of utility
and the applied arts.
When addressing furniture design, simplicity is investigated first and foremost
as a design problem of Modernism, whereas the exhibition section on the simplicity
of everyday objects concentrates on the counterpole of practical simplicity
in using things and also the unadorned simplicity associated with luxury.
The investigation of Asian art history places simplicity in relation to the way of
life and view of the world, and simultaneously to European tendencies.
This exhibition does not attempt to give any answers or define concepts in a
plain and simple way. Our primary aim is to motivate the visitor to take a trip
through the histories and centuries of style, to make up his and her own
definition of what is plain and simple, and to discover--and this is not so
simple!--that it in fact deals with an extremely complex field of ideas.
Functionalism and purism, modesty and moderation, poverty and
surveying plain furniture design from the Biedermeier epoch to the early
20th century and from the interwar period up to the present day, the
Plain Furniture exhibition segment covers the full range of associations
that simplicity evokes. Exemplary of this stylistic diversity is a
selection of table situations in the show--living-room and kitchen
tables, but also desks and working tables plus chairs and stools from
the early 19th century onward: it was the time when simple functionalism
first became a relevant aesthetic quality in the design of objects of
Plain Useful / Luxuriously Simple
In the exhibition segment named Plain Useful / Luxuriously Simple,
exhibits of ceramics, precious or base metals, glass, and textiles
the development of simplicity in everyday utensils from the 15th
century up until today.
Cellar and kitchen utensils that were developed for functionality with
clear shapes and sparse ornamentation are on exhibit in the show as is
luxurious, prestigious table and silver - ware in which the ideal of
simplicity of design finds expression for aesthetic reasons.
Simplicity: The East-Asian Way
the countries of Eastern Asia, the turn toward simplicity can be first
observed in China in the 11th century, instigated by scholar-officials
and occurring in parallel to the transition from military state to civil
administration. Drawing on the flourishing Chan Buddhism as well as on
ancient vernacular ancient philosophical traditions, the new ruling
class defined their own, mostly socio-politically motivated signature
aesthetics. Reduction was seen as an expression of exemplary modesty and
also began to inform the design of everyday utility objects. Although
Japan--with a feudal military caste remaining in power well into the 19th
century--saw a political development contrary to that of China, the
concept of "modesty" also found a--depoliticized--form of expression
there. Not literally translatable, the dual notion of "wabi-sabi" refers
to a sophisticated sense of the beauty of simplicity.
Hackenschmidt, MAK Curator Furniture and Woodwork; Elisabeth
Schmuttermeier, MAK Curator Metal and Wiener Werkstätte Archive;
Johannes Wieninger, MAK Curator Asia
The exhibition is accompanied by the magazine MAK/ZINE #1/2012,
edited by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, contributions by Elfriede Jelinek
and Detlev Schöttker as well as Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Christian
Höller, Fatima Naqvi, Elisabeth von Samsonow, Elisabeth Schmuttermeier,
Johannes Wieninger, interviews Jasper Sharp / Doris Krüger and Simon
Rees / Jan Norrman, German/English, 144 pages, MAK/Volltext Vienna 2012,
€ 9,90. Available at the [MAK Design Shop]|
Sat, Sun 3 p.m. (in German)
Continuous information service and short tours
Sat 1-3 p.m. (in German)
Special guided tours by advance booking: Gabriele Fabiankowitsch,
+43 1 711 36-298,
Tue 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Wed-Sun 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Free Admission on
Tuesdays 6-10 p.m.
€ 7,90 / reduced € 5,50
Free Admission for children and teens up to 19, the unemployed and student groups accompanied by teachers.
Tour contribution € 2,00