Watching the new documentary, The Visual Language of Herbert Matter, only reinforced my idea of Things Organized Neatly as a continuation of the 20th century design project. Matter’s work, particular his postwar work for Conde Nast and Knoll Inc. organized things neatly over and over again. The Bertoia chairs become fabric swatches, the fabric swatches a pinwheel. Or one sees the knives and forks and plates (in the film, I couldn’t find an image online except for these paintbrushes) as a sort of troop movement across the table. A grid is always latent. The hangover from Matter’s early photocollage work (Switzerland, snow, skis, diagonals) is in the layering of those grids to create shallow depth. Obvious in the painters cover above, less so in the Bertoia chair ad where text, upholstery and wire chair all float on separate-but-aligned planes.
The documentary is screening this spring (dates available here; next U.S. shows in Richmond TONIGHT and Pasadena 3/31) and will be available on DVD in the fall.
Read the rest here.