Courses

The Commonplace Transformed

The Vernacular in Modern Architecture and Contemporary Design

Two Sundays, May 2 and 9, 5:30–7:00 P.M. One Thursday, May 13, 5:30–7:00 P.M. | MFAH American General Conference Room, Beck Building, Mezzanine Level

Throughout the twentieth century, professionally trained artists, designers, and architects found inspiration in the beauty and practicality of common objects and buildings manufactured by non-trained artisans and craftspeople.

In this series, Michelangelo Sabatino draws upon the extensive research for his two recently published books to explore the process of appropriation and its impact on the meaning and materiality of modern and contemporary design. Selecting from a range of chronologically and geographically diverse examples from the Vienna Secession to Italian and American postwar design, Professor Sabatino will illustrate how material culture and high design merged during the twentieth century to create a new synthesis of urban and pre-industrial design.

In the first lecture, Professor Sabatino will focus on the vernacular of 1890s European design through World War II. The appropriation of ordinary objects to extraordinary design in the postwar period of 1945 to the present will be the subject of the second lecture. The final lecture will offer participants a rare opportunity to view objects from the Contemporary Design collection at the Museum of Fine Arts. These examples, experienced in an intimate setting and selected by Cindi Strauss, Curator, will illustrate the phenomenon of adoption and transformation of the commonplace by modern designers.

Michelangelo Sabatino, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston. He was trained as an architect and architectural historian in Venice and Toronto. His articles on European and North-American architecture and urbanism have been published in journals such as “Casabella,” “Cite,” “Harvard Design Magazine,” “JAE,” “JOA,” “JSSAC,” “JSAH,” “Places,” and “Rotunda.” He has contributed an essay to Foro Italico (2003) and co- edited Il nuovo e il moderno in architettura (2001). Professor Sabatino co-edited a book with Jean-Françoise Lejeune entitled Modern Architecture and the Mediterranean – Vernacular Dialogues and Contested Identities (Routledge 2009). His first sole-authored book is entitled: Pride in Modesty: Modernist Architecture and the Vernacular Tradition in Italy (University of Toronto Press, 2010).

Cindi Strauss is Curator for Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She holds a BA with honors in Art History from Hamilton College and an MA in the History of Decorative Arts from the Cooper-Hewitt/Parsons School of Design. Ms. Strauss is responsible for post-1900 decorative arts, design, and craft at the MFAH. Recent exhibitions include the traveling show Ornament as Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection; The Past Made Present: Contemporary Art and Memory; and Designed by Architects: Metalwork from the Margo Grant Walsh Collection. In addition to the Ornament as Art exhibition catalogue, recent publications include Pioneers of Contemporary Glass: Highlights from the Barbara and Dennis DuBois Collection and articles for Neue Keramik, the Journal of Decorative Arts, and Metalsmith magazine. Cindi is currently working on a major exhibition and catalogue of the Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection of modern and contemporary ceramics, scheduled to open at the MFAH in 2012 and travel thereafter.

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Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 

 

If you are interested in traveling to Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy. 

 

Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 

 

Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.

 

AND WE ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE A FALL POP-UP COURSE!
Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced

 

Register today!

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For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at registrar.houstonseminar.org  or phone 713.666.9000.