'radical' italian design

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston unleashes 'radical' Italian design exhibition

MFAH unleashes massive and 'radical' Italian design exhibition

MFAH "Radical Design" Lapo Binazzi, UFO, MGM Table Lamp, designed 1969, made c. 1975.jpg
A Lapo Binazzi, UFO, MGM Table Lamp, designed 1969, made c. 1975. Image courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts

Coming next year, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will examine Italy’s postwar explosion of disruptive design with a massive exhibition.

"Radical: Italian Design 1965–1985, the Dennis Freedman Collection" will be on view in the museum’s Cullinan Hall starting Friday, February 14. Nearly 50 years after MoMA’s defining 1972 survey, "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape," this is the first major U.S. museum exhibition to assess this now-iconic movement from a historical perspective.

"'Radical Design' was a movement instigated by university students, who sparked critical dialogues about art, design, and society," MFAH director Gary Tinterow said in a press release.

The exhibition presents nearly 70 pieces of furniture, lighting design, architectural models, paintings, and objects; of these, about half are gifts of Freedman (a New York-based creative director who has held positions at W Magazine and Barneys New York) and half are acquisitions from his collection. In addition, Freedman has lent more than a dozen objects to the exhibition.

Together, the gifts and acquisitions establish a foundational collection for the museum. Rare prototypes, one-of-a-kind, and limited edition works by architects, designers, and collectives will be on view.

"Radical: Italian Design presents a major opportunity to examine this important movement in design history," said Cindi Strauss, Sara and Bill Morgan Curator of Decorative Arts, Craft, and Design at the MFAH, in a press release. "Dennis Freedman has collected rare pieces that provide an in-depth view into the period, its design, and its key figures; he is one of very few collectors to focus on Radical Italian design in the United States."

The exhibition will run through Sunday, April 26. After that, it will travel to the Yale Architecture Gallery at the Yale School of Architecture in fall 2021. The museum and Yale University Press will also publish a catalog, Radical, which will feature interviews with the movement’s influential figures, an interview with Freedman; and essays by Strauss and critic Germano Celant (who coined the "Radical" term). The publication will be available in February 2020.