I talked about the amazingness of the Auckland Art Gallery last time I was in New Zealand, and now the world has agreed with me. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki was just awarded World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival, and while I haven't kept up with the competing buildings, I'm confident that they made the right choice. It really is ridiculously glorious.
I went there recently to catch the California Design exhibition before it closed. Touring from LACMA, it was a small, highly curated collection of the objects, architecture, design and frame of mind that dramatically changed the way of life in the middle of last century – not just in America but here, also.
I (and so many others) love so much to have come out of this period, whether we know it or not. It was a turning point for New Zealand also; a recognition that the closed in, turned-away, formal English villas that had been the housing style of choice for so long were maybe not the best thing for New Zealand's climate, attitude and lifestyle, and that we didn't necessarily have to emulate England. An almost direct lineage could be traced, all the way from the then aggressively modern Californian suburban homes that started popping up across the state, through the bungalows of the '40s and '50s and on to today's beautiful, low, sweeping designs*.
So on to the actual exhibition! It was more than architecture, more than art, more than furniture. There were posters and magazines and surfboards, bikinis and dresses and sculptures, chairs and board games and Barbie. It was like a very whirlwind tour of America during WWII and in the couple of decades after. It was fantastic.
My favourite bit was the surfboard. The same thing that makes me love the Beach Boys makes me love old longboards. I also loved a couple of the chairs (of course) which makes a lot more sense, because I don't surf, but I do sit down a lot.
The Auckland Art Gallery is still amazingly, wonderfully free (long may that live) but their special exhibitions cost, usually around $15. That's $10 less than going to MoMA. I'm not saying don't go to MoMA, but just recognise that $15 is a bargain, and totally worth it.
Anyone else see the exhibition? What was your favourite?
*We'll ignore the unfortunate 'let's all build like we live in Tuscany' trend that occurred in the mid to late '90s.