It was purely coincidental that I visited the latest Queensland Art Gallery exhibition, California Design, on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, but they fitted together brilliantly.
California Design looks at the sleek, modernist, optimistic designs that came out of California between 1930 and the 1960s, and JFK’s Camelot image was polished – and tarnished – by the same broad-brush strokes. The Kennedys were always attracted by the lure of Hollywood. In lusting after Marilyn Monroe, the brothers were only following in the footsteps of old Joe, who made Gloria Swanson his mistress during the 1930s.
The exhibition begins with a pair of aerial shots of Los Angeles. In 1923, LA is little more than a triangle of country roads and an airstrip. By 1930, the triangle has been filled with houses, and outlying farms are already turning into suburbia. The pace of change must have been shocking or exhilarating to live through, and the boom in housing gave architects and designers an opportunity to concentrate on building – and filling – the private houses of a new wealthy elite. Continue reading