The exhibitionbased on the MAK collectionTHINGS. 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 sociological phenomena.
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 discoverand this is not so simple!that it in fact deals with an extremely complex field of ideas.
Plain Furniture Functionalism and purism, modesty and moderation, poverty and luxury: 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 showliving-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 everyday use.
Plain Useful / Luxuriously Simple In the exhibition segment named Plain Useful / Luxuriously Simple, exhibits of ceramics, precious or base metals, glass, and textiles illustrate 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 In 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 Japanwith a feudal military caste remaining in power well into the 19th centurysaw a political development contrary to that of China, the concept of modesty also found adepoliticizedform of expression there. Not literally translatable, the dual notion of wabi-sabi refers to a sophisticated sense of the beauty of simplicity.
Curators Sebastian Hackenschmidt, MAK Curator Furniture and Woodwork; Elisabeth Schmuttermeier, MAK Curator Metal and Wiener Werkstätte Archive; Johannes Wieninger, MAK Curator Asia
7,90 / reduced 5,50 Free admission for children and teens up to 19
Free Admission on Tuesdays 610 p.m. Family ticket 11 (2 adults and at least one child under 14)
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Special and Group Tours
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Lift at the entrance at Weiskirchnerstraße 3, accessible toilets for disabled visitors.
The second edition of the MAK/ZINE is dedicated to works of applied art and architecture, created under the guiding principle of simplicity. Published on the occasion of the exhibition THINGS: plain & simple.
Visitors can realise just how diverse the Metal Collection is by viewing the presentation of the objects in the Study Collection Metal, which is arranged according to types. Candleholders, beakers, pots and jugs, bowls and dishes illustrate their stages of stylistic and functional development. Moreover, since 1993 the great variety of the metal collection has been presented in the form of alternating, temporary exhibitions, which also frequently include contemporary jewellery design.
This display draws on the MAKs extensive Furniture Collection to present a diverse typology of seating furniture. As a both visually appealing and didactic compilation covering numerous eras and styles, it also serves to shed light on the constantly changing, socially coded ways in which human beings deal with objects.
Published for the exhibition of the same title (126.96.36.199.1994) German/English 72 pages, 79 illustrations 15,2 x 24 cm, paperback MAK, Vienna / Hatje Cantz Verlag Publishers, Ostfildern-Ruit,-Ruit 1994