Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism

April 24–October 6, 2014

Designing Home at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco

Julius Shulman, Kaufmann House designed by Richard Neutra (Palm Springs, CA), 1947. Gelatin silver print. Julius Shulman Photography Archive, Research Library at the Getty Research Institute. Copyright © J. Paul Getty Trust.


Both native-born artists and émigrés, most of whom made indelible contributions to American visual culture after fleeing Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the 1930s, will be highlighted. The exhibition will underscore that these designers, individually talented as they were, did not work in isolation, and that their impact on American architecture and design was rooted in the networks they forged, influential schools and artist colonies they helped found, museum initiatives they shaped, and corporations they modernized with new products, buildings, and advertising campaigns. The exhibition will focus on six design hubs across the United States that were critical in the  dissemination of Modernist design principals from the 1930s to 1950s—The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Black Mountain College, North Carolina; The Institute of Design, Chicago; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; California Art and Architecture Magazine, Los Angeles; and Pond Farm Workshop, Guerneville, California. The exhibition will display visually stunning artifacts from Bay Area museums and leading institutions across the country, including some seen publicly for the first time.

At the same time, Designing Home will go beyond a simple exploration of physical Jewish contributions to the history of modern architecture and design—an impact that continues today—to examine broader cultural and social themes.

The exhibition and its public programs will look at the intersections between Jewish social ideals and modernism’s own progressive commitment to egalitarianism. 

Organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, with Guest Curator Donald Albrecht.

Guest Curator

Albrecht’s catalogs have garnered numerous awards, including the Society of Architectural Historians’ Best Exhibition Catalogue for the Eero Saarinen and the Eames catalogs. Mr. Albrecht has also contributed essays to a number of books about architecture and design, including The Glass House: Pairings and California Design: The Legacy of West Coast Craft and Style to monographs on Andree Putman, Michael Gabellini, and 1100 Architect, and has written extensively about the relationship between architecture and film, starting with his seminal book, Designing Dreams: Modern Architecture in the Movies.

Mr. Albrecht lectures frequently about architecture and design. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

   Press Release



Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Major sponsorship for this exhibition is provided by Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt, the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, Osterweis Capital Management, the Seiger Family Foundation, and the Jim Joseph Foundation. Patron sponsorship is provided by Phyllis Cook, Alison Gelb Pincus and Mark Pincus, and The Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation. Supporting sponsorship is provided by AIG Private Client Group, an Anonymous donor, Judy and Harry Cohn, Dana Corvin and Harris Weinberg, G2 Insurance Services, Peggy and Richard Greenfield Foundation, Siesel Maibach, Dorothy R. Saxe, and Barbara and Howard Wollner. Participating sponsorship is provided by Alvin H. Baum, Jr., T Beller and Philip S. Schlein, Susan and Joel Hyatt, Carol and Alan J. Pomerantz, Shelli Semler and Kyle Bach, Ruth and Alan Stein, and Roselyne Chroman Swig.

Additional support is provided by The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund.

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Essential support for catalog publication has been provided by Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, in memory of Ben and A. Jess Shenson.

Media sponsorship is provided by Dwell magazine.


Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.



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