The fifties represent a significant decade in the development of modern art. They begin immediately after the Second World War in the time of reconstruction, the awakening of freedoms, but also new global reality. Historical, political, and social factors significantly influenced art world of the fifties.
The 1950s represent the era of recovery from traumatic events, so new artistic movements appeared around the world. The influence of classical art remains significant, but for the first time, art and creativity are now becoming accessible to many.
Due to the War in Europe, but also the economic dominance, United States of America and especially New York are becoming an increasingly important center. As in the political sense, the world of art also got a New world order.
The 1950s were a period of great changes and experiments in art. Artistic expressions are free and reflect social circumstances. Some artists adopted an abstract expression, others experimented with the principles of geometry and proportions, while others tried completely new techniques and styles, never seen before.
The diversity of styles and the variety of practices make it difficult to group them into one artistic direction, and it is not easy to choose representative examples of the decade.
Artistically speaking, this 1950s are considered a period of incubation between avant-garde movements that arose before the War and completely revolutionary movements such as abstract expressionism.
It is important to highlight some of the many movements that appeared in that period: Gutai Art Group in Japan, Art enformal in Europe, and Group Zero in Germany.
The creative ideas of the fifties had a significant impact on architecture, design, interior design, and photography. But, as a consequence of the Cold War, as well as ideological and social contrasts, a significant difference in aesthetics between East and West emerged.
The Western bloc has reached developed capitalism, so artists, especially through Pop Art, found influence in the free market, consumerism, and mass production. On the other side of the “Iron Curtain”, revolutionary propaganda had a strong influence on art as well. The 1950s art was one of the battlefields for the ultimate victory of communism or capitalism. It turned out that both of them were wrong, as the art mainstream movements in the 1960s and 1970s heavily criticized the 1950s art world.
The fifties – Art and interior design
Nevertheless, the influence of the fifties remained significant, especially on architecture and especially interior or furniture design.
Under the influence of technological progress and the growing market, some of the most recognizable pieces were created. Lifestyle changes had a strong impact on interior design. The style was eclectic, with a mix of furniture of different types.
Many furniture manufacturers, such as Vitra, Knoll International, Fritz Hansen emerged during that time.
In that period, wood was still the most used material, but first really successful pieces made of plastic are striking. It was then that the Eames Molded Plastic & Fiberglass Armchair, which appeared on the market in 1950, was presented. Also, Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman were released in 1956 after years of development. It was the first chair that the Eameses designed for a high-end market.
Vladimir Kagan designed the famous Serpentine during the fifties and the first products were available in the late 1950s. (Take a look at the Serpentine sofa in eclectic interior of our Belgrade residence)
Arne Jacobson’s Egg chair is also one of those famous design classics from that era.
The world was changing, and art, architecture, interior, and even fashion were revolutionized, and the fifties laid the foundations of the modern world we live in today.
image: Dillon Mangum