Design check—Tate Modern

As early in the middle of the nineteenth century, artists were concerned with the topic of upcycling design. At the Tate Modern Museum in London, we discovered the works of two of those artists. We think Good design combines function and feeling; the aesthetic quality of the material accentuates character making it timeless and stylish.

Louise Nevelson

Black Wall 1959
Painted wood

In the late 1950s, Nevelson began to make reliefs by stacking wooden boxes and drates, each of which would contain an arrangement of found objects that she collected as she walked around the streets of New York City. Black Wall is an early example of this approach, filled with pieces of scrap timber, such as joinery offcuts and fragments of furniture. The disparate elements are unified by being painted black, a colour which Nevelson suggested will make any material look more distinguished.

Tony Cragg 1949
Born Britain, works Britain, Germany

Stack 1975
Wood, concrete, brick, metal, plastic, textile, cardboard and paper

While making Stack, Cragg randomly accumulated miscellaneous objects and materials, which he ordered into a solid, geometric structure. The layering of different kinds of materials suggests a geological structure, showing the interconnection of raw and fabricated materials in a landscape shaped over time by mankind. Stack demonstrates Cragg’s interest in humanity’s impact on nature through industry, science and technology; and the evolution of organic and man-made landscapes.

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